F U L L . R E V I E W S


Smohalla - Smolensk Combustion - 2006 - indy

Track Listing
1. Distant Vision
2. Legion Of Waves
3. The Winds Still Rise
04. Dead But Dreaming
05. Wake The Dawn
06. Astral Cynicism
07. Reine Des Vallees
08. Lethal Silence
So, it is quite clear that Smohalla is the name of a musical group. But what is the name, where does it come from?

Enter Wikipedia.

Smohalla was a Native American of the Wanapum tribe who in the 1800's founded the Dreamers, a religious sect of spirituality and atavism. Thus armed by knowledge, approaching the band of the same name becomes markedly easier. And, keeping the tendencies of other 'post-black metal bands' from France in mind, one can construct a relatively accurate portrayal of Smohalla's sound even before experiencing it.

And it is true, Smohalla clearly do share much with fellow Frenchmen playing the more progressive strains of black metal in today's scene. However, to call them black metal, even post-black, is sometimes stretching too far. Much of their demo, entitled 'Smolensk Combustion', is instead composed of heavily atmospheric, semi-ambient experiments.
There are a number of black metal moments, complete with tinny, wavering guitars and the distant, rasping voice rather redolent of California's black metal scene (Leviathan, Draugar), but often Smohalla indulge in 'spacier' exercises. Synthesizers, classical instruments, eerie vocal effects, and strong melodies all contribute to their sound as much as does the black metal core.

The band is also quite inventive with structure; but often their songs are written in non-linear, meandering formats that descend into ambience and unrelated melodies, most often the pensive, delicate sort that seem quite fragile and transparent when laid upon the stressed, vaguely dissonant ambience that permeates most of the recording.

At moments, this demo tries to accomplish too much and loses its identity in the process. Ulver meets Leviathan meets neo-folk is interesting, but in Smohalla's young hands it sometimes seems to lack intention, and therefore also poignancy. Other times, though, 'Smolensk Combustion' is beautiful, indicative of the true talent and vision that drives this project beyond imitation and to new fields.

Though Smohalla sound more than a little pretentious at times, and no doubt are, they are able to make the challenge of abstraction interesting, instead of simply elitist. For fans of black metal, this might constitute as easy listening, but it remains a convincing and passionate product-with some stylistic trimmings here and there, Smohalla could ride the current wave to great success.


--Etiam 09.01.06


Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: SMOHALLA
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Smolensk CombustionSmohalla
2006
Etiam9/18/2006


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