PICK OF THE WEEK: Smoulder push abusers against the gory blade on ‘Violent Creed of Vengeance’

Photo by Emma Grönqvist

Taking vengeance upon someone typically means that person wronged you, hurt you mentally or physically, stole from you, or committed some other deed that did damage. Responding in kind to that person is to ensure they never do that again. It also can be done to punish someone who stood by and let it happen, making them guilty by association.

That bloody act is the centerpiece of “Violent Creed of Vengeance,” the second record from metallic force Smoulder, making this their deadliest hour. Over these seven tracks, the band—vocalist Sarah Ann, guitarists S. Vincent and Collin Wolf, bassist Adam Blake, drummer Kevin Hester—used their razor-sharp speed and power metal to drive their means of payback. Ann directed her rage toward rapists and abusers, as well as the support system that enables this behavior, and she imagines violence unspeakable and the desire to entirely extinguish these evil forces. This is done by entrenching these warnings within fantastical storytelling and an era where the blade is a primary weapon, promising those who try to force their power on others will meet their final day in agony.  

The title track kicks in with riffs charging and Ann’s soaring singing, as she goes a register higher than she did on much of Smoulder’s debut “Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring.” The band is in total command, telling dark and fantastical tales, the fluid assault taking you to task and injecting energy into every ounce of this track. “The Talisman and the Blade” is speedy and jarring, the vocals pounding away, the energy palpable. “To fathom the witches riddle, power is nothing if given to you, let the forces of furies unite for justice, for light, and life,” Ann wails over the chorus as the guitars charge up and ignite the power, the drums pounding, and the bass slicing a thick path. “Midnight in the Mirror World” enters amid spiraling riffs and churning playing, the singing soaring, ominous “oh oh” calls darkening the skies. The song then takes on an even more epic feel, mashing boundaries, the fires blazing and disappearing into mystic steam.

“Path of Witchery” explodes with jarring riffs and a stomping pace, the chorus once again shining brightly as one of the most alluring parts of the track. Punches land as the leads take on more fury, the soloing giving off blinding flashes, the singing feeling immersive and sinewy, everything sweeping through to a dramatic end. “Victims of Fate” runs 7:41, driving a knife through your chest, taking off with plodding strength. “Chosen for the greatest task, where the future will meet the past, I’ll soon forget all that I saw amongst swirling visions beyond chaos and law,” Ann howls, getting inside your blood and changing your chemical makeup. Glorious and humid, the track keeps building, the story evolves, and Ann calls out (in reference to the center city in Michael Moorcock’s multiverse), “Tanelorn, I wish for release, Tanelorn, will I find you in?” as the power drives into the sky and fades away. “Spellforger” hits the gas pedal right away showing great fire, the vocals blistering as Ann gets an even higher level. The playing is relentless as the storming rages, ending in a vicious surge. Closer “Dragonslayer’s Doom” runs 9:51 and lights up before hitting a tempered pace, getting more molten as things progress. The pace chugs as the guitars go off on a journey, Ann standing with blade in hand as she adds more muscle. The second half continues to expand the journey, the singing bellows, and guitars scar as everything ramps up for a titanic finish that ends in the jaws of fantasy.

Smoulder’s legend continues to build on “Violent Creed of Vengeance,” a record that both complements and stands alone from their powerful debut album. The fact that these songs both tell new legends and also put the knife to the throat of oppressors and abusers is both exciting and righteous, making for an album that accomplishes so many things. This is a band that cannot be denied, and their second album is one that drives home the fact that they’re ascending to a throne no one can prevent them from taking.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SmoulderDoom

To buy the album, go here: https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/

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