REVIEW: SOULSTEAL – “Tenebris”
Music can take present itself in the form of a very strong dark aura. It can showcase itself in this shade while being able to capture your emotions. Perhaps this was the inspiration that Cyprus-based doom/death act SoulSteal intended to live up to with their second album ‘Tenebris’.
The album is a mix of elements of doom and death metal without being too much of either. It seems to present itself in some self-suppressed extremity in regard to its music. The music sounds strong, but does not go out of its way to make that point. The first thing that one would notice in this album is the impressive rhythm sections. They keep transitioning between sounding extreme in nature to sudden tranquillity. The vocals are a mix of clean singing and growls.
‘Tenebris’ opens with the heavy yet somewhat groovy track “Focus on Your Beasts”. This is a pretty good introduction to the album. The nice thing about this song is that it isn’t made up of everything that one can expect from the entire album. As good as this song is, it leaves space for some surprises from the album. The track “Survival” follows up after the opening track; more than having heaviness as its focus, the song places emphasis on melody to compliment the overall presentation of the song. The track “Revoke” bends itself more towards the doom side of things, slowing things down a bit as a result.
We finally come to one of the best tracks on ‘Tenebris’, called “Realms”. The song is an excellent mix of doom, death and melody. The wonderful instrumentation compliments the vocals, which shift between clean singing and growls. Another gem in the album is the track “Debris”. Apart from the excellent drum sections on the song, the work on the leads and rhythms are intense. This intensity is made complete by the fantastic work on vocals. It is funny and fascinating how different parts of the same song showcase both death and doom all at once; all while being an expression of individuality. The song is topped with some soothing melodies, making this a masterpiece.
The album brings out its doom essence in more clarity in the song “Nothingness”. The song is slow, and is sure to slow you down too. ‘Tenebris’ then ends with the track “Infraction”, which is purely acoustic and simple in form. It is a slow and mellow ending to quite a journey of an album. The line-up for ‘Tenebris’ consists of Socrates Loannou on guitars and vocals, Soteris Solomou on guitars, Mark Loannou on drums and Nick Azinas on bass.
‘Tenebris’ is a fantastic presentation of a concept of combining death metal and doom. There is a great mix of both the worlds without overdoing anything. It is fabulous to hear how a lot of melody was orchestrated within these heavy and extreme arrangements. The album kept switching between being pacey and groovy and slow and subtle without a sweat.
For the sake of argument, one would say that the songs of the album are too fast to be doom. My response to that would be that this is the middle path between being death metal and doom metal. This is something else, and it would be gross injustice to give this a narrow classification of any sort. ‘Tenebris’ is the prodigy of death and doom metal, and could be the groundwork and influence for a lot of bands to come.