Review: Smote ‘Genog’

Having cleared my decks review wise and with the only album on my books not due for a while, I decided to hit up the bossman to see if he had anything in the meanwhile which could help keep me out of mischief. Enter Smote, a Newcastle-Upon-Tyne outfit led by Daniel Foggin, whose previous album 2021’s Drommon was covered by our very own Harry Holmes who described said release as delivering ‘head-down psych conjuring, where the spiral turns ever inward, even as the noise reaches outward’, a description that certainly helped to rouse my curiosity. Add to this the fact that the band have played prominent festivals such as Le Guess Who, Brave Exhibitions and Roadburn, you have all the ingredients of an exciting listening prospect.

Smote 'Genog'

Anyone familiar with my reviewing style, or who has a passing knowledge of it, should be aware by now of the importance I place on artwork and Genog are no exception to the rule. An obscure figure threshing wheat on the cover (apologies if this is incorrect, I’m a city boy despite living not far from the Lake District), gives one an indication of the pastoral folk-influenced music potentially in store for us.

The title track Genog opens with the kind of psychedelic acid rock that one may have gotten from krautrock legends Amon Düül, especially during their more hippified first incarnation and on albums such as Psychedelic Underground. That droning repetition is ever prevalent as it was with a lot of the bands from the krautrock movement; itself a reaction to both American artists whose unhealthy obsession with blues-based rock was becoming tiresome or even worse, the inanities of German schlager music. The track is a lengthy piece at well over ten minutes and opens the album in a meditative and engrossing fashion.

Hlaf (old English for bread/loaf) is musically reminiscent of traditional English folk, thus reflecting the old-worldly sentiments implied by the track’s title, but with some additional psych freak-out moments ala Sunburned Hand Of The Man, which is unexpectedly welcome. Fenhop is a sonic joy with Swans style tribal drumming that reminds one of that band’s more reunion themed output, as well as the use of a flute that recalls the ominous folk heard on The Wicker Man soundtrack, all that is missing is Lord Summerisle and his acolytes.

psychedelic acid rock that one may have gotten from krautrock legends Amon Düül…

Lof in comparison to its predecessors is far heavier and its description in the album’s promotional notes ring true when it states it’s ‘driven by an ominous and bewitching central riff’, a similar vibe to what one would associate with bands such as OM and even Earthless. It also mines a similar ground to the much missed (by me anyway) Tucson psychedelic rock outfit Black Sun Ensemble, RIP Jesus Acedo. A very different piece compared to its predecessors but no less fantastic.

Banhus seemingly follows a similar sonic trajectory but is a little more restrained by comparison, akin to a more exciting version of post-rock and bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Anthroprophh and perhaps even fellow Geordies/labelmates Pigs x 7 also spring to mind, albeit a less chaotic and aggressive version. A tripped out and blissful way with which to conclude the album.

I loved every minute of Genog, which, in my opinion, also helped solidify Rocket Recordings status and reputation as one of the most important working labels doing the rounds who release some of the most interesting and challenging music currently out there. On the back of Genog then I will gladly be investigating more of Smote‘s catalogue.

Label: Rocket Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills