Often you need a riff that just hits the spot. A bit like Pantera’s ethos of just hitting the money riff right away, Somnus Throne have done this very well. A power trio who have traversed the metal map of the US, starting in New Orleans, moving to Portland, and most recently setting up in Los Angeles, California.
They cite heavy-hitting influences like Electric Wizard, Sleep, and Dopelord, which is all well and good. But, while it’s great to have influences, can you bring something new to the table, or do you have to push what you do to the next level?
This is an album that knows exactly what it wants to deliver. It feels like the songs have been tried and tested on rapturous audiences. There is no fat or padding, it is just fuzzy, fuzzy, psychedelic riffs. The opening track, Snake Eyes, is arguably the standout on the album. It begins with rapid riffing before launching into a very satisfying breakdown. You can almost taste the IPA and feel the involuntary headbang when this drops. A great track, but not necessarily what the rest of the album is about, from now on its psychedelia time.
The trippy spirit of the ‘60s and ‘90s live on through this record. The second track, Lacquer Bones, opens with a warm, plucked acoustic guitar (which makes a return at the end as well), but even for a cynic like me it’s hard not to appreciate the songcraft here. From the homely start, Laquer Bones rapidly develops into a better example of what this album feels like overall; chilled-out grooves with ‘verbed out, colourful guitar textures that wash over tight bass and drum patterns before coming back to a mighty riff.
There is no fat or padding, it is just fuzzy, fuzzy, psychedelic riffs…
If there was one criticism to be made: everything is placed with care on this album, but it would be great to hear even more of the riff writing and less of the spacey departures. Dice And Scarecrow hit the balance for me though, with a satisfying doom chug that then develops into space-cadet territory.
You could hazard a guess that these guys are into Alice In Chains and early Soundgarden through the vocal approach and take on songcraft. And it works – anyway, Alice In Chains are awesome. Yet, Somnus Throne are subtly quite progressive. It’s not just delay and echo. The latter half of the album is even reminiscent of Indian classical ragas with long moving parts that build and twist in the lengthy instrumental sections (think Planet Caravan if that helps), but when they are getting a bit too tripped out, they change the pace and shake up the energy.
UK band Iron Witch (RIP) had a release called The First Four Beers, and Sonmus Throne have recognised that metal festival feel as well. You just have a great time with this album. Besides, if you want a challenge there’s always Earth 2: Special Low-Frequency Version.
Somnus Throne are a band that a lot of bands wish they were and Nemesis Lately is out on Heavy Psych Sounds on 3rd June where it belongs!
Scribed by: James Bullock