If bands were only the sum of their influences and references (not necessarily intentional), then Smohalla would be among the greatest bands on Earth. I can easily trace elements from BM/AGM luminaries as Arcturus (melodies), Emperor (riffs), Ved Buens Ende (melodies), Ulver (electronics), DHG (riffs), Maudlin of the Well (emotions), et al, in Smohallas music, and I could easily leave it at that. But that would be unfair, wouldn’t it? Because, even if Smohalla turns my mind to mentioned bands at different points during Smolensk Combustion, they never ever sound like copycats. I definitely shouldn’t have judged them in reference to those bands, for Smohalla is above mere reference. They do what few bands succeed at – they sound unique. Not just mashing together their ecclectic influences, as many bands do today trying to get away as “avant-garde”, but creating a sound of their own. Smohalla sounds like Smohalla, nothing else. Quite an achievement for a band that didn’t exist before 2006!
Smohalla, led by multi-instrumentalist visionaire Slo (guitar/vox/drums, aided by bassist Camille and A.L. responsible for electronics), twists and turns in some kind of surrealistic dreamland. High-paced storming grind with intricate technic riffing falls into triphoppy ambiences with distant operatic female vocals and eerie samples, beautiful string and glockenspeil melodies with epic clean vocals… There are too many elements to write them all down, you should hear them yourself. It all sounds like played behind a curtain of sleepy mists, the sound is low and at great distance, giving an ambience similar to Leviathan (US), but cyan and deep blue and violet instead of pitch black. It takes some listens to penetrate these veils, but for those percistent enough awaits sapphires and emeralds of the most beautiful extreme music released for quite a while. Smohalla carries a legacy of ephemeral sweetness in metal that few dare these days. For the escapist who long for something else.
(Note: the 2nd Smohalla release, 3″ cd Nova Persei, based on the H.P. Lovecraft tale “Beyond The Wall Of Sleep”, will be released this summer through Vendlus/God Is Myth.)
Avantgenre: Ambient Dreamstorming Black Metal
Official site: http://smohalla.fr.nf/
Review online since: 30.06.2007 / 23:15:28
1. Distant Vision
2. Legion Of Waves
3. The Winds Still Rise
4. Dead But Dreaming
5. Wake The Dawn
6. Astral Cynicism
7. Reine Des Vallees
8. Lethal Silence