Nov 26, 2012

Seamount - "IV: Earthmother" ...

Seamount's fourth album in 5 years sees the band moving in a cleaner, more direct direction. Whether this is just a natural progression on earlier works or something that happened intentionally is hard to say, might have to look out for a new interview with the band to figure this out. In the time this band featuring the ever busy Phil Swanson has been together, they have slowly shifted away from doom metal in the traditional sense and 'IV Earthmother' is their most un-doom like album released thus far. There is still nothing to fear here, it is still dark and has its fair share of menacing riffing but this is certainly in a more 70's hard rock vein than anything they have done before.

This is the bands first ever concept album. That concept that deals with peace, love and the realization that being positive is actually not a bad thing after all. To be honest as a concept album, the concept itself seems to get lost about halfway through the album or maybe I just lose interest in it after a while. The switch to a more 70's rock approach may seem like a cliched thing to do these days, after-all look at how many bands are doing it but in the case of Seamount it seems to work for the most part. The guitar sound is my only major gripe but again whether this is a accident or was done on purpose is hard to say. Either way, the guitar sound here is clean, almost too clean for my liking. Some riffs cry out for a big meaty sound but it doesn't arrive. Instead you have a sound that seems restrained and clean, preferring to sit in the background at times rather than ripping your head off with crushing power.

Complaints out of the way then, the first half of this record is great. Opening tune 'Surrender' sounds like mid 80's doom rock, much like early Trouble or even Martin-era Black Sabbath. 'The Fool' and 'Echoes' are two of the albums most "retro" tracks while 'Just for Fantasy' and the title track are a modern take on 80's epic heavy metal much in the same way bands like Grand Magus and Spiritual Beggars do it. These songs are instantly catchy and even 'Echoes' which is pretty close to a power-ballad kind of tune has a certain anthemic charm about it. Enter the albums second half and the songwriting quality takes a bit of a down-turn. Songs are not as catchy or as memorable and part of the problem is some of the songs no longer sound like Seamount. ' Aphrodites Child' and 'Isolation' could pass as mid 90's alt-rock songs with a lack of emotional vocals to match. Even a Witchfinder General cover doesn't save the albums second half from being a tad dull.

One thing Seamount have working for them is they don't fit in a neat box. They have a retro feel to some of the songs but don't sound like your typical retro band. They are also modern-sounding in places but don't sound like a typical modern band either. The hybrid thang they have going gives them something unique at least and even if you don't like some of these tracks (like me), all of the tracks are easy enough to get through without any dramas. The albums first half is good enough to make this a worthwhile album to buy especially if you are already a fan of the band but other people may find some of it a bit too clean and lacking in guitar crunch...7/10.

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