It’s always pleasingly convenient when you can compare a band or an album to a time of the year or a season, because it’s an easy way to help your readers get into the frame of mind of the music in a way that could make sense with their surroundings. We have that today. Sort of.
Unfortunately in the case of Portland, Ore.,doom rockers Satyress, the time of year that would go best with their music would be mid-autumn, where the leaves are off the trees, their death crunches under your feet as you walk over them, and a biting chill is in the air warning you death is near. In the States, we’re getting ready for spring and new life, a time that seems decidedly the opposite of this band’s music. Oh well. You’ll have that. Maybe a better time to absorb this band and their debut offering “Dark Fortunes” is late at night, with nothing but flickering candles to offer you light, as you enjoy a very dark, very potent beer. That might help you get into the band’s psyche a little better, if you have something to help your mind soar, and if you connect spiritually, you’ll find yourself in the midst of an unearthed gem that sounds poised for greatness.
Satyress actually formed in the brutal winter of 2012, bringing together these punishing forces who would breathe new life into the doom genre, pay homage to its past, and set themselves up for being one of the bands to lead it into its murky future. The main talking point of this band is vocalist Jamie LaRose, whose singing booms out your speakers or headphones, gripping you and pounding you with her passion and energy. I always hesitate to describe vocals in this sense because I’m afraid it’s going to come off the wrong way, but LaRose’s work makes me think of a witches coven, and her in total and full command, with her followers ready to heed her every command. She’s that good and that engaging. The rest of the band are just as rock solid, with Billy Nitetooth as a complete force on guitar, bringing a Black Sabbath edge to his work at times, and Alex Fast (bass) and Yorck Franken (drums) holding down the lower end and rumbling you to death. Another great thing about Satyress is that while they have a decided metallic edge to their music, they also should appeal to rock and roll fans who are hard pressed to find good bands these days who really get their juices flowing. I doubt they’ll be disappointed.
The record kicks off with “Possession,” situated in a killer doom groove that gives way to some serious crunch, while LaRose promises shadowy danger by repeatedly warning, “He’s coming,” and trading off between soaring singing and more aggressive vocals. I’m not taking growls here, by the way. She always stays clean, but she has sections on this record where she sounds more dangerous. The guitar work in this one also keeps upping the ante as the song goes on, ending in a full blaze. “Esta Noche” has a heavy, sinister start until it blows into smokey territory, with LaRose insisting, “All I need is a little more darkness in my life.” The song feels like a total backlash at the light, almost in a vampiric sense, and as the song goes along, the band settles into some bluesy grooves that match the lyrical content perfectly. When the end comes and LaRose repeatedly howls, “Darkness saved my life!” the band matches her intensity perfectly. “Soma” is a total punisher, with NWOBHM-style guitar work burning brightly, a flashy doom swagger that is infectious, and dark fun that’ll get in your blood.
The title track has a grinding, nasty guitar riff that opens the track, but that eventually opens up into full doom glory, with LaRose weaving her magic vocally, promising, “I’m coming out to raise the dead.” Glorious guitars erupt into soloing, with the rest of the band hitting on a crushing tempo that’ll rattle your soul, and LaRose’s voice pushing the song into the stratosphere. “Spread Thin” is slow driving and even a little sultry at the start, but as the song goes on, the tempo builds, the volume kicks up, and the band hits on a fiery pace that is full of volcanic fun. Closer “Archaic Passage” has tar-thick bass work that opens the track, drums keeping an ominous pace, and the guitar work feeling like righteous Tony Iommi worship. LaRose’s vocals take on a different tone, hanging in the air and sounding hauntingly detached, as if she’s a lost soul somewhere spouting incantations and looking for other ghosts to capture. The song has a strange, eerie feel to it, with some spooky tones, and the whole thing bleeds out into the night.
Satyress are at the beginning of their dark journey, so don’t feel bad or out of touch if you are just learning about this band. They have an incredible appeal and true doom magic that not every band of their ilk can boast, and as noted, they have one hell of a great singer who seems capable of anything. “Dark Fortunes” is a really strong first effort, one you should make a point to hear even if you only have a mild interest in doom metal. This band has the chance to surpass that boundary and enrapture a much larger audience. All they need is your ears and an eager heart, and they’ll have you in their clutches for good.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Satyress
To buy the album, go here: http://satyress.bandcamp.com/