Man the ramparts and summon the militia, those heathen barbarians known as Shroud Eater have returned and no-one is safe! Even the strongest of men would cower beneath the might of their furious assault, driven from the rear by Felipe Torres’ furious battery, given major heft by the bass and backing vocals of Janette Valentine and fully executed by the commanding voice and vicious, fluid guitar of Jean Saiz, bestriding the aural conflict like a true metal trio of titans. Best batten down those hatches and dig in, because you are about to be annihilated.
Now, ‘Dead Ends ‘ – the band’s third recording, following their debut self titled EP and 2011’s criminally underappreciated debut full length ‘ThunderNoise‘ – has been available since last year as a digital download, CD and cassette via the band themselves and Saiz’ own cassette label Primitive Violence, but has just been made available on vinyl for the first time through The Path Less Traveled, and so this review serves the double purpose of hipping you to the band’s first vinyl release – always a big deal for any band – and telling you exactly how goddamn good it is.
War is declared with the dense and intense ‘Cannibals‘, Torres’ hammer-handed tribal pounding setting the throbbing pace as Saiz builds aggressive layers and textures around Valentine’s prowling malevolent bass whilst yelling blue murder, treated to sound as though commands are being barked through a megaphone or P.A. The effect adds to the overwhelming, intimidating wall-like feel of the track and leaves me wondering if my head would actually cave in if the track were longer than a shade over two minutes.
This level of intensity is easily deployed by Shroud Eater, but they’re a seasoned and canny enough unit to know to leaven it with light and shade and allow room for the music to breathe, interjecting doomed passages amidst the churning red-hot metal, such as in the lurching ‘Lord Of The Sword‘ – a track that also serves to highlight the lung-busting power and gritty-as-fuck melodicism of Saiz’ voice and exactly how well it blends with Valentine’s complimentary backing vocal – and the creeping Man Is The Bastard-esque bass sludge and whirring guitar scree that opens ‘Sudden Plague‘.
Elsewhere is chock full of scything, blistering METAL and silvery psychedelia – ‘Tempest‘ makes like cavemen ripping into High On Fire before turning a corner into mercurial echo and space-bound riffmongery, and closing belter ‘The Star And The Serpent‘ churns and roils furiously around Torres’ endlessly tumbling drum patterns, simultaneously nimble as a cat and vicious as a tiger.
Saiz is equally as comfortable ripping belligerent nasty-ass heft from her guitar and amp as she is melting brains with shredding psych meltdowns and plangent echoing tonality, and Valentine excels at sheer bass filth whilst ably backing Saiz and Torres to the hilt.
‘Dead Ends is a succinct fist in the chops from a band very much coming into their own. I’ve watched every release show them up their game to the next level and ‘Dead Ends‘ is very much exactly where I want to see them right now. Exciting as this release is, though, it’s the next one that really makes me drool – surely this is the time for a forward-thinking high-calibre label to pick Shroud Eater up and help enable that journey to the next level? The potential of this band is world-class.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson