Deadsmoke’s Self-Titled is a Sleeper

To say Deadsmoke‘s self-titled debut is heavy is an understatement. The five song album is a veritable quagmire thick distortion, growling vocals, and murky riffs. Deadsmoke fits squarely within the pantheon of doom–I’m thinking specifically of Sleep, Windhand, Uzala, and Electric Wizard. The album is a definite must have for any fan of smokey riffs.

The album starts with “Branches of Evil.” The song not only is a good example of what’s to come but also references Dopesmoker–the genre’s crown jewel, so to speak. A few bars of chugging gives way to a heavy blues progression and vocals that are unlike anything I’ve heard–screams drowning in reverb. “Branches of Evil” repeats its distortion as leads and vocals swap melodic duties.

Though the album lands squarely within doom’s conventions, Deadsmoke manages to piece fragments of other genres within itself. Throughout, its guitar’s tone is reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperors (at their most structured) or Crippled Black Phoenix (at their heaviest) or AUN’s droning. And the vocals move between With The Dead’s growls and Coheed and Cambria’s sludgiest choruses. These points do well to set Deadsmoke apart from the myriad of Sleep-worshippers that have glutted the scene.

“Liar Behind Me” sits in the middle of the album. Perhaps the band’s heaviest song, “Liar Behind Me” eschews everything light. From its guitars to its percussion, from its vocals to its bass lines, the track is a forward march through the aural mud of Deadsmoke‘s sound. Even the solo hits squarely. And this is Deadsmoke’s power–the unstoppable, unsyncopated plod from start to finish.

This unstoppable march would seemingly become monotonous, but somehow the Italian band finds a way to surprise its listeners throughout. Clocking in at 30 minutes, Deadsmoke is shorter than most doom metal albums, but its brevity makes it taut. The band wastes no time setting up and getting out of a groove, a feature not often found in the doom world.

One of my favorite songs of the album is “Tornado.” As the penultimate song, it acts as a turn of sorts. Whispered vocals flit around the edge of its sonic fabric just outside comprehension as a bass walks under the subtly quicker guitar work. “Tornado” seems a hybrid between the sludgiest metal and its quickest exemplars.

Deadsmoke, while it doesn’t budge outside of doom’s conventions, takes the genre and makes it its own. In their debut, Deadsmoke reminds us that riffs are king, that three instruments can make an oppressive blanket of sound, that heaviness is not dead. This is seriously one of the heaviest releases I’ve heard in the past few years–perfect for anyone new to the genre or those who know all the benchmarks.

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