I have fond memories of discovering Floridian doom trio Shroud Eater when I first became acquainted with Bandcamp, listening to their ThunderNoise album while my sanity was flaking away like dried mud during an overnight shift. Their newest release, Dead Ends, significantly raises the bar and blasts them into the elite class of the stoner/sludge/doom genres. I don’t consider this shit-talking, but this album sounds like what a lot of people hoped Kylesa would release this year.
From the first rumbles of “Cannibals,” Shroud Eater welcome the listener into their appropriately dim, muddy audiosphere, with Janette Valentine’s bass tuned so low it’s like a dog-whistle made just for Cthulu. The (mostly) instrumental song sounds like summoning a gigantic beast from the black waters of a deep-sea lair, or maybe a psalm for some stoner deity, pleading to rain LSD down into the smoke-exhaling mouths of an hallucinating tribe. Felipe Torres’ percussion provides feral energy and hypnotic groove as “Sudden Plague” prowls forward, sprinkling in some elegant melody that sits atop the back of the song’s enormous sound like a brightly feathered bird on some tusked beast.
The sound on Dead Ends is so full and projects nearly supernatural size with its monolithic riffs that it’s difficult comprehending only three humans making the noise. It feels like it would take a cyclops herd or a band of morose swamp giants to create music this massive. Valentine and guitarist Jean Saiz both share vocalist duties, often joining in ethereal harmonies that remind me of John Baizley’s bittersweet melodies. “Lord of the Sword” and “The Star and the Serpent” both imitate waves crashing harder and harder against a shore as the music builds to a storm, which is fitting since the album’s tremendous single is titled “Tempest.” “Tempest” is a head-banging cruise on a battered warship through razor-waved waters infested with fanged squids. The song’s in turns pummelling and entrancing, clearing the fog with mystically reverberating clean guitar before sinking back into the murk as the mist rolls back in. Despite my affection for doom I’ve never warmed up to drone, but Dead Ends expertly uses drone hypnosis to build a stage strong enough to support the Kongh-heavy riffs.
With flashes of psychedelic lightning to match their ear-punching thunder, this is one storm you wish would last longer than 28+ minutes. And for the ultimate irony, for an album called Dead Ends, this album absolutely feels more like a black-iron gateway to a thousand different paths. No matter which one Shroud Eater takes, we’re all in for future storms we can look forward to.
Stream Dead Ends over on Bandcamp here and see why I’m making such a huge fuss over this album: http://shroudeater.bandcamp.com/album/dead-ends-2
And check out their official website, with gig/merch information: http://www.shroudeaterrocks.com/