DeadsmokeItalian doom metal outfit Deadsmoke are a phenomenally heavy trio who blend the harshness of sludge with the low end worship of doom. With a sound described as ‘so downtuned and low it shakes the earth to its core’, the trio cite bands like Sleep, Neurosis and Goatwhore as big influences on their sound, along with beer and weed being contributing factors too. Saying that our souls are already burned and the smoke is all that remains, let’s see if this Mediterranean trio can reduce us to nothingness with their sonic assault.

“Branches Of Evil” opens the self titled release and the low frequency worship is evident from the very start. The pounding and malevolent sounding slow paced riffs hit with full force from the beginning and it is impressive how colossal it sounds. Massive sounding music, accompanied by harshly yelled vocals create an intense, smothering and unsettling atmosphere and from here, things can only get even more uncomfortable. The dissonant, almost drone like quality to the pulsing rhythmic delivery, along with some clever effects at play to give a slightly surreal edge makes for such an intimidating noise and the fact it is slightly hypnotic is unsettling in a splendid way, making for a great introduction to the band.

“Eyes Of The Blind Man” keeps this up. Its slow droning feel riff is joined by a crushing bassline and swirling effects add to the surreal and unsettling feel this track has. There are some moments of clarity in the vocals with the occasional clean delivery which comes across in a chant-like manner but these give way to agonising harsh screams. The monstrous sound, thunderous bass and slow, crushing pace has a suffocating effect and there is a slight reprieve from this when it speeds up, adopting a decent sounding proto-metal feel. The rumbling low end and chant like vocals give a real good feel to it but then it slams back to the raw, primal intensity, dragging back the ominous atmosphere which has always been there.

“Liar Behind Me” keeps up the ominous feeling with a very sinister sounding riff. The solid rhythmic pulse of the drums backs this up, giving a massive sound and the harsh vocals have a real chilling effect. It lightens up a little as the rich and deep bass plays the progression of the guitar riff whilst the guitar plays a very surreal sounding lead line which has an oddly melodic quality to it. As expected, the reprieve is only temporary as once again, the suffocating, despair filled heaviness returns, smothering you. The pace builds up, bringing a sense of dread or anticipation and as it grows, the drums become more captivating and the low register rumblings get more of a sludge-like groove to them.

“Tornado” is an instrumental track which is just as uncompromising in its delivery as the previous tracks. The initial echo and delay laden clean lines over steady drums soon become distorted and to add to the sonic headfuck being laid on you, there are whisperings layered in there, making you feel like you are succumbing to the effects of this assault. The slow, almost crawling pace builds the suspense up brilliantly and the hypnotic pounding sections halfway through work themselves around you like a snake, constricting you and keeping you unable to escape it. As it tightens its hold on you, the surreal edge due to the effects returns once again as it rises in volume and intensity, creating an almost completely hopeless feeling before it finally peaks and fades away.

“Night Of The Vipers” closes the track and true to form, it does not deviate from the bands apparent modus operandi. The lone bass intro with a thick and heavy sound has a haunting feel to it and the sound of an amp crackling to life comes in before a faint drone like effect swells in volume and the distortion kicks in. Like a landslide, it comes tumbling down, bringing a huge crushing and despair filled feel with it, hitting everything in its path without mercy or prejudice and the atonal elements to some of the riffs just make it all the more intense. The vocals initially begin as chant-like and rather spaced out but once more, the harsh vocals return and bring the thunderous delivery once again. With powerful low end rumblings and a relentless steady paced assault, it just crushes everything before it finally fades out into feedback.

Overall, Deadsmoke have delivered a truly depressing work of art here. The negativity in the sound and the intense aural experience is something to behold given how much it can affect your perception whilst listening to it. It may not be monumental or groundbreaking, but what it does is act as the embers which will grow into the soul consuming fire the trio have promised. This self titled release is the foundation for what will be a truly despair filled musical outlook and one I will enjoy.

(7.5/10 Fraggle)