(20 Buck Spin)
Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, Samothrace (not sure if named after the Greek Island or a race of Emperor guitarists) have come out of nowhere with a stunning debut album that mixes the girth and throb of psychedelic sludge/Post Rock (think Minsk and Rwake) with the utterly rending, layered harmonies and beautiful yet wilting melody of Anathema, Morgion or even the Finnish doom/death scene.
Life’s Tradeis 4 songs and just over 45 minutes of draining, soul crushing music that will leave your heart shattered and spent but with a glimmer of hope gleaming through the shroud of despondency. Seriously, the mix of typically fuzzed out Sanford Parker produced sludge/doom, gruff roars, sprawling ambience and truly evocative, layered guitar work might move you to tears-it almost did me.
Opener “La Llorona’s” (”The Crying lady”-named after a child drowning ghost of Mexican folklore) is a moping, heaving monster of lethargy and a slight Southern drawl mingled with the haunting throes of the subject matter. Then, standout track “Awkward Hearts” renders arguably one of the most moving pieces of music I’ve heard in 2008. While my full time job has rendered my an emotionless prick, music still has the ability to physically affect my emotions and the opening delicate strums and cascading peak of “Awkward Hearts” is that rare piece of music that feels like God reaching into my chest, grabbing my heart, wringing it out, and leaving it a withered husk. Think Anathema’s “Lovelorn Rhapsody” and Morgion’s “Canticle” mixed with the crushing ebbs of Isis or Neurosis. Simply fucking amazing.
“Cacophony”, has a tall order to follow, but manages to keep me enthralled initially a heftier, sludgier repast before gently transitioning into a shimmering, psychedelic mid song trip and tumbling, stoner doom ending climax. Closer “Cruel Awake” gives a fittingly despondent , 13 minute endnote with a crumbling, epic lope littered with layered melodic acoustics and again, a slightly hazy, swampy feel and the closing 3 minutes coming close to recreating the sheer mournfull bliss of “Awkward Hearts”.
Like Deadbird, Samothrace isn’t the biggest name in the genre, but by god have they delivered one of the year’s better albums and like Deadbird’s Twilight Ritual, look for Life’s Trade to flirt with my year end list.
Written by Erik Thomas
October 3rd, 2008
Upcoming live dates:
10/04 New Haven, CT @ Rudy's
10/06 New York, NY @ Lit Lounge
10/07 Rochester, NY @ The Pussy Barrel
10/08 Columbus, OH @ Legion of Doom
10/09 Cincinnati, OH @ The Bluerock Tavern
10/10 Toledo, OH @ Ramalama Records
10/11 Chicago, IL @ Metal Shaker
10/12 Milwaukee, WI @ 319 Garfield
10/16 Fayetteville, AR @ The Grill
10/17 Tulsa, OK @ House show
10/18 Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
10/19 Oklahoma City, OK @ Spinks @ Neil Diamond
10/20 Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
10/22 Lawrence, KS @ The Replay
10/23 Denver, CO @ Blast-o-Mat
10/27 Los Angeles, CA @ House show
10/28 Oakland, CA @ Hazmat
10/29 San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
10/30 Chico, CA @ Monstros Pizza
10/31 Portland, OR @ Halloween house show
11/01 Seattle, WA @ Squid and Ink
11/02 Bellingham, WA @ Green Frog Acoustic Room
11/08 Denver, CO @ Curtis St. Bar
11/10 Vermillion, SD @ Arts Center Undergroung