Saturday, May 3, 2014

Relentless "Souls of Charon"



Chicago's Relentless provide a serious change of pace from the grindcore albums that were reviewed recently.   Instead of blast-beats and guitar riffs that challenge the speed of light Relentless choose to crush with slow riffs that often contain a serious whiff of Black Sabbbath.

The slow yet crunching riffing in "Trapped Underground" make it crystal clear that this is doom metal.  At first, I heard a lot of Siouxie Sioux in Carlee Jackson's vocals.  After a few more listens there's a haunting from a lot earlier in the seventies and the late sixties in the form of Janis Joplin yet there's still a punkish spirit trying its best to push the elder ghosts of rock past out of the way.  From the opening riff of "Forever Damned", there's no denying the Black Sabbath influence.  The drumming is standard slow tempo and makes way for the much stronger guitar sound which  carries the Iommi patent. .

In many ways, it's unfair to pigeonhole Relentless as doom metal as there are other elements to their music  "Better Off Dead" has a Jefferson Airplane feel with its poppy hooks and guitar sounds that bring Wishbone Ash to mind.  This is a tune to wear light incense and put on flares when you listen to it.  There's a fuzzed out  stoner rock vibe in "Final Wishes".

That Relentless doom metal label is unfortunate as it brings inevitable comparisons to heavyweights such as Black Sabbath, Trouble and Candlemass and the vocal approach here is more attuned to the rock world than metal.  A plus  though is that Carlee sounds like a woman as in the heavier realm as it is becoming more common to rival men in the brutality stakes by sounding exactly like men and that just begs the question: what's the point of having a female vocalist? Unfortunately though the vocals on "Souls of Charon" often don't gel and the band wind up sounding two different newly formed high school bands.

Fans of Fuzz Manta and Valkyrie will find something to like here.  The Fuzz Manta fans will find the vocals appealing and some of the more seventies styled guitar work on "Souls of Charon" is reminiscent of that on Valkyrie's "Man of Two Visions" masterpiece. Sadly despite a number of good parts Relentless don't measure up to either of those bands on "Souls of Charon".

2.5/5

Check out the album on bandcamp


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