Surtr - _Pulvis et Umbra_
(Altsphere Production, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
Unheralded French doomsters Surtr have released a sophomore album that will surely quench the thirst of many of you for quality epic / traditional doom metal, and god only knows how rare these sonic creatures are. Equipped with a massive production and a larger-than-life sound, this trio are wizards in the craft of songwriting, delivering catchy, gargantuan, traditional doom metal that's both robust as fuck and epic in a rather nonchalant manner; an excellent vocalist who sounds like nobody else in the scene presides over menacing yet exhilarating riffs generated through the manipulation of an enormous guitar sound, pushed forward by similarly huge a bass guitar and all that tour-de-force is powered by an impressive drumming that more often than not bears an almost ritualistic character, resulting in a surprisingly dynamic, enjoyable and original recording the likes of which I have not recently encountered.

The doom metal displayed on _Pulvis et Umbra_ is slightly faster than the average dragging velocity of its peers, and due to the music's spacious and dynamic nature, it is almost danceable, or at least something you could headbang to. Surprisingly enough, no weak moments are apparent on the album. Each song is a thoughtful process of heaviness, narration and aural story telling, and although on the surface the tracks may sound simple and straightforward, the compositions are rather complex -- but probably due to the trio's craftsmanship in handling their instruments and delivering their musical agenda in an almost habitual manner, the music sounds simplistic. But here lies the magic of the album: it may sound like simple music, but no track is redundant or weak; no filler moments and no drops in quality or suspense.

Don't be fooled by the label's comparison of Surtr to either Count Raven, Black Sabbath, Candlemass or Saint Vitus; Surtr is unique and sounds like none of the aforementioned, and _Pulvis et Umbra_ is the evidence, carved in stone and in tiny plastic grooves comprising this accomplished work of excellence.


(article published 30/6/2013)

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