The Good Doctor must have been under a sleeping enchantment when SMOULDER’s debut Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring hit the racks last year. How I could have missed an album with Michael Whelan art on the cover can only be explained by sorcery. Now comes the Canadian band’s EP, entitled Dream Quest Ends, which gives me a second chance.

Epic sword and sorcery metal with a very doom-laden aura and ringing female vocals is the most succinct way to describe Dream Quest Ends. Imagine MANILLA ROAD played at CANDLEMASS velocity and you’ve hit on the SMOULDER template. And it’s one they know well. They call this an EP, but the running time is over a half hour.

The title track gets things under way with a great crunching plod and a definite feeling we are in the Hyborian Age. Singer Sarah Ann doesn’t growl or scream, but her vocals avoid the sugary sweet feel many metal divas are known for. ‘Warrior Witch Of Hell’ is a meaner and more tank-like tune, very heavy stuff indeed. Then we get a cover of MANILLA ROAD’s ‘Cage Of Mirrors’, which sounds odd due to the female singing at first, but which soon settles down soon enough. This is a long, truly epic song that has a lot of twists and turns.

The EP concludes with three songs from SMOULDER’s 2018 demo. I can already tell how they have progressed from these songs, which are all pretty much at the same plodding pace and lacking the dynamics of the two newer tracks we started with here. They’re not bad, but you can sure see how they’ve advanced. So my eyes are opened, and I now see SMOULDER as a band worthy of further study.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality

Dream Quest Ends
Cruz Del Sur
4 / 6