Samothrace – Life’s Trade (20 Buck Spin)

Friday, 15th March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

Some lightbulb had to have gone off in the collective brain of Samothrace, as this might be the first legitimate combo of sludgy, c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g to a s-t-a-n-d-s-t-i-l-l doom that is so melodically competent, it makes the snail’s pace of the Life’s Trade all the more worth it.

Funeral doom this is not, but instead a concoction of the atmospheric haze we’ve come to adore from Isis and Pelican, all immersed in suffocating shell of bleak emotion. And it’s not like we haven’t seen bleakness across the board (hello classic My Dying Bride), it’s just that Samothrace are one of the fewbands that consistently whittle down one’s spirit with the slightest of touch. It’s sorta reassuring, to be frank.

Consisting of only four songsLife’s Trade is laborious, but stays on top of things with swirling, dreary melodies that are akin to what early Gothenburg death metal was doing. Soft, subtle leads rain down on opener “La Llorana,” only after a steady diet of Bryan Spinks’ muddled vocals.

That Isis/Pelican cross-reference is there on “Awkward Hearts,” a minimal, sparse slow jam that would never gets out of first gear and that’s fine – let’s take it slow and let those melodies (we’re going to overdo this) work their way in. Its successor, “Cacophony” is a bit more brutish, but has that wide open space that keeps the guitars of Spinks and Renata Castagna out in the open and closer “Cruel Awake” rounds out the album in a smoldering pit of ash.

So good is Life’s Trade, that we didn’t make the stupid little name-connection between former Emperor guitarist Samoth and an actual race. Yeah, pretty easy way out, but when an album is as good, as convincing, as digestible asLife’s Trade, all that little shit doesn’t matter – only the awesome jams.

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