Thursday, August 9, 2012

Samothrace - Reverence to Stone

At first, it was just an island. Later, in pre-Hellenic Greece, it was a place where you could sacrifice pig’s blood to chthonic deities and join a mystery cult. And in 1884, when an acephalous female in white marble appeared frozen atop a staircase at the Louvre to a stunned crowd, she presented her placard with a set of wings and no arms: The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Samothrace is also Brian Spinks, Joe Axler, Dylan Desmond and Renata Castagna—a metal band out of Seattle by way of Lawrence, Kansas. Reverence to Stone is the first product since the move and a follow-up to the group’s 2008 double-album debut, Life’s Trade. All of this material is on 20 Buck Spin Records, and every record is halved. That means Samothrace has delivered six lean-cut slices of doom, all clocking in within standard stoner time tables, over the span of four years. This would feel a bit pithy if it weren’t for the band’s relocation and guitarist and singer Brian Spinks’ openness about the band’s past substance abuse problems, which they’ve now put behind them.

The band’s fifth member is time. Not the designated kind in paragraphs past, but the irreducibility of its perception. Listening to the A-side of Reverence to Stone, “When We Emerged” feels like it is forever starting, until suddenly, it’s as if it has always been ending. This happens without any conscious record of the transition. How and when does the change happen? It is a known unknown, much like our acceptance that we will never understand lyrics implemented with black metal leanings like those of Spinks. Nothing enslaves someone to the capriciousness of time like being on drugs (maybe love). The members of Samothrace are effective manipulators of time, conditioned to endure and well-connected to each other. Let’s hope they stay clean, so they can dirty-up our minds some more.
Elizabeth Murphy    

-from Agit Reader