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Let’s be honest here, most of the nowadays “female fronted” metal bands are a generic, run of the mill label product riding the current wave of “Hey, let’s put a good looking chick with no talent and four random guys, write formulaic songs for angry braindead teenagers and let’s call it a band.” As this is a new thing.
Anyone who peeked in the metal genre in general would know that woman part of it since its inception, even groundbreaking bands like Coven from 1967 who a year before Black Sabbath released their debut album who introduced the masses with a heavier sound (for that time) with satanic content. Were it punk, rock and even extreme metal woman had a vital parts in some great albums.
But in general, it’s the quality of the bands/albums that matters, not the gender.
Luckily, the band we are talking about here took this route.
Smoke Rites a fairly young band based in UK and Poland offers an occult blackened stoner metal which sounds like Devil’s Blood distant cousin who has significant admiration for the old Hammer Horror movies and Black Sabbath.
The production is crunchy and organic with a specific dark atmosphere that in a way you really can’t decipher from what year it is exactly. Maksymina Kuzianik handles her vocal parts with elegance and dread in a fine balance. From demonic shrieks to seductive clean vocals, it really gives the songs a specific vibe.
As their first release and being young band their EP The Rite of the Smoke is still rough around the edges with very good parts within. The first track “The Rite has Begun” serves as a great opener and feels like a soundtrack for old occult horror movies with Max’s vocals seamlessly switching between shrieks and clean vocal parts. The whole 4-track EP has smooth transition in-between songs so it works as whole very good. While “Bastardonero” is the weakest link in the EP, the last two songs “Smoked into Oblivion” and “As Below So Above” luckily picks up the pace with great vocal melodies, catchy riffs and rhythm with “As Below So Above” serves as a personal favorite.
Smoke Rites’ EP cleverly serves as a showcase of hard solid potential and very enjoyable listen. A bit rough around the edges but for fans of the occult/dark side of stoner this is a recommendation.
Release date: September 6th, 2021
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