This week we’re shining the Meet The Band spotlight on the Canadian doom group Smoulder. Their debut album is Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring. Let’s get to know Smoulder.
Give us a brief history of Smoulder.
We formed back in 2013, relocated to Toronto in 2016, and released our demo The Sword Woman in 2018. It unexpectedly caught on, and we sold out a 150 run of cassettes via Hoove Child Records, who then pressed a 300 run of 7-inch vinyl, which also sold out. After the demo was released, we were asked to play Hammer of Doom festival in Germany for our fourth gig, where we were signed to Cruz del Sur Records. Our debut album Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring was released on April 26! It’s been a hell of a ride.
Describe the songwriting process for Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring.
The album features two re-recorded and improved tracks from our demo, alongside four new songs. We all write about and love fantasy, so it was great working together. All members of the band contributed to the songwriting process, and generally someone would come in with a partially or fully formed song, then we would flesh them out together.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Recording was a fairly easy and enjoyable process. We all practice frequently, and are chatting constantly, so we were ready to go. Adam, Collin and Sarah recorded in Toronto, while Collin and Kevin recorded in Chicago. Given that we are spread out internationally, it made the most sense to record separately. It also helped that we recorded the album only a few weeks before our Hammer of Doom performance, so we had been rehearsing twice a week for months beforehand and were dialed in.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
The album is epic power doom revolving around swords, magic, and death.
What lyrical topics do you tackle?
We sing about fantasy characters and interweave our narratives with personal metaphors. Some of the characters we’ve written songs about include Jirel of Joiry, Dark Agnes, Jon Snow & Ygritte, Ilian of Garathorm, and characters from the Dragon Lance Universe. We love pulp fiction sword and sorcery novels, so the heroes – and villains – from those stories appear in our lyrics in all their complex, troubled, and terrible glory.
How did you come to sign with Cruz Del Sur Music?
They reached out to us prior to Hammer of Doom, and asked if we’d like to talk at the festival. After Enrico saw our performance, he offered us a deal. It was really cool – we’d been offered several deals beforehand, but this one was special. Cruz del Sur is one of our favorite labels, and being on the same label as Slough Feg, Magister Templi, Crescent Shield, and Gatekeeper was a no brainer.
What are your goals and expectations for the record?
I think any band would say “to have as many people as possible hear our music.” We want to play more festivals and have been really enjoying the surge of notoriety that has come with the album. A definite goal is having our music pay for all our expenses – recording, merchandise, and travelling. So far, we’ve been successful in that goal, which is incredibly gratifying.
What has been your most memorable Smoulder live show?
Our most memorable show was definitely Hammer of Doom. To be playing at a festival in Germany to over a thousand people for your fourth show was simply staggering. We opened the Saturday, and it was only noon – but when we got out on stage, the venue was PACKED. The festival treated us like royalty – hotel rooms and food and booze was covered, and we got to play with Coven, While Heaven Wept, Hallas, Batushka, the Wizards, and more. It was such a huge change from our previous gig at a punk club to 100 people. We ended up selling almost 100 copies of our 7-inch, and seeing people in Germany walking around in our band t-shirts was mind-blowing. We can’t wait to play Up the Hammers in Greece in the the spring, we’re sure it’s going to be similarly incredible.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We are playing Legions of Metal in May alongside Cirith Ungol and Liege Lord, Witches Hex in August alongside Leather Leone and Bitch, opening a truly incredible bill that includes Cauchemar, Blood Ceremony, and Pagan Altar in August, and are playing Up the Hammers in Greece in March 2020.
How did you get started in music?
All of us had different entry points into heavy metal and have played in other bands, including Manacle, Gatekrashor, HROM, Olorin, Moros Nyx, Pilcrow, and more. We’ve all been fairly active in our respective local metal scenes for the better part of two decades, attending/playing/booking/photographing and writing about bands as well.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
All members of the band are fans of Blind Guardian, Candlemass, Manilla Road, Solitude Aeternus, Pagan Altar, and Reverend Bizarre. We could each add about 100 more influences to the list!
What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
There are three members of the band answering this interview! Sarah’s first metal show (she thinks) was with Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy when she was 14. Vincent’s first show (he thinks) was seeing black metal band Operation Winter Mist when he was 18. Adam doesn’t remember what his first ever show was.
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
We recently purchased the movie Galaxy of Terror, a sci-fi horror movie directed by Roger Corman which was strongly influenced by Alien. It was a violent, dark, B-movie that was awesome. Another recent was The VVitch, a horror movie about a puritanical Christian family who loses a baby to witchcraft. It subtly and masterfully shows their downward spiral into paranoia and death.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Several members of the band are answering this interview together after a jam, and we are currently listening to Greek black metal band Wampyrinacht. Earlier today we were listening to the new albums by doom/trad metal bands Altar of Oblivion, Magic Circle, and Iron Griffin.
(interview published April 27, 2019)