Review: Smote ‘Drommon’

Coming to us on Rocket Recordings with a certain amount of mystery, this is a re-release of the original Parts 1 and 2 of Drommon, bookending two newer and shorter pieces of similarly murky and crepuscular droning psych. Driven by an insatiable need to know, and empowered by the endless memory-palace of the internet, I had a rummage about for a meaning in the song titles, and while it appears the two central tracks are items of medieval armour, the eponymous bookstops are not quite a kind of medieval ship. Make of that what you will, all is equally valued, and significance/insignificance is probably not a useful category.

Smote ‘Drommon’

Smote sets the scene with some field-recording type birdsong and drone, several minutes pass in this pleasant glade. We’re not permitted to rest here indefinitely however, with a percussion building force that almost becomes an air of menace. Rich, jangling layers build on the rhythmic core of this percussion and bass. Repetition offers a steady onward drift and unfolding, the prospect of a sudden break into coruscating riffing in the vein of defunct Boston pummelers 5ive CRP remains a tease, as Smote delivers head-down psych conjuring, where the spiral turns ever inward, even as the noise reaches outward.

Smote delivers head-down psych conjuring, where the spiral turns ever inward, even as the noise reaches outward…

Pulling back from that peak, we’re back in the clearing for a spell before Hauberk opens a new space, some exoticism echoing in cave-like space, urgent rhythm again building tension. It seems a shame to me to let these builds subside, but perhaps it’s the immanence that I should be enjoying, rather than waiting for an epiphany. In that spirit, I close my eyes and stop treating this as an intro, sink into the heavier drone of Poleyn where keyboards take the lead. Deeper in the woods for a short wander before the concluding part of Drommon, which returns with the menace, all action buried below a single tonic, themes that half step forward and subside, borne down by the heaviness.

I will confess to a little mental watch-checking during this sixteen-minute stretch, it all got a bit much, or not enough and the spell was broken for a while, but I suppose that is the game that you play with this sort of material. It’s hopefully not too much of a spoiler to say there is a change in there somewhere, and much appreciated it was, but of the sort that collapses back into the mire. In feedback and interference Smote call an end to proceedings, leaving us with a sense of having sat in on someone else’s ritual, hapless anthropologist stoned on strange entheogens, reaching for points of reference and somewhat disconcerted.

Label: Rocket Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Harry Holmes