After releasing two EP’s, this North Carolina three-piece finally decided to put everything they had into releasing a full-length debut with the comic book styled concept album, Skulthor Ebonblade. The album artwork is remarkable, as is the inside and back cover of the digipack which definitely fits the Robert E. Howard friendly tone of the work. Musically, it’s a huge mixture of modern doom and with some stoner elements that even explores psychedelia. Maybe we could compare them to early The Sword or even Manilla Road, with frontman/guitarist Micah belting out choruses just as well as he can crank out riffs. As for that thick bass tone, we’ve got that here too as Wilford really pounds it out while Jason creates a potent backbone in the drumming. It’s definitely a real kit, which is pretty refreshing to hear every once in a while, especially in an age where so many musicians program their kits. I have nothing against programmed kits, we use one (but you really can’t tell) after all. It’s just nice to hear a man actually standing behind a burly noisemaker such as a real drumkit entails and really going at it. Yet that’s where the band excel as they craft some rather worthwhile and even death metal influenced sections that I most certainly will not push aside. Temptation’s Wings might have been named after an old Down tune, but they certainly kick more ass than Down have lately.
It’s also worth mentioning that the album features a level of clarity that you may not have expected as nearly every instrument is clearly audible in the mix, especially Micah’s vocal nodes, which we want to hear loudly in the mix. Maybe there isn’t as much chunk in the bass as there could be, and not necessarily as much “thump” on the record as a whole; but we have to keep in mind that even on a pumping track like “Lair Of The Gorgon Queen” there’s a slight acoustic bit that changes the mood altogether and really shows what kind of band we’re dealing with. Did I also mention that Micah plays more than quite a few tasteful guitar solos on the disc? I’m not talking about the kind of “fly by night” moments that get ignored either – these are genuine moments of dedication that really help to bring an album of this nature to life. Most bands would have made a track like the one I’ve mentioned a mere four minutes long and they could’ve definitely done that here – but they didn’t. Instead, Temptation’s Wings loaded it up with instrumental beef in order to show that three regular guys from North Carolina can really play their instruments and dynamically well at that. To be honest, I was a bit blown away as I found myself unexpectedly jamming in the line for the Wal-Mart deli, while I waited for some popcorn chicken in a little cup.
What a surprising level of effort from a debut release, that comes with such a level of promise that it makes me wonder why these gentlemen have not been picked up yet by a label. Get these guys to open up for Mastodon and then watch as three years later, Mastodon will be opening up for them! A bit of a hefty statement, I’m sure. But it comes of the back of honestly notable tunes that surprised the hell out of me and left me rather speechless whilst eating from the mighty chicken cup. Or was it shrimp that day? Regardless of whatever great beast I was consuming, this music definitely made my lunch very entertaining and stands as one of my favorite doom records of the year. Definitely give these guys a listen, as Skulthor commands you!
(9 Tracks, 50:00)