Sometimes it seems like the world is playing a cruel joke on the Huckster. I bemoan the fact that I dislike introductory tracks as much as I dislike preludes in books. I bemoan the fact that I wish bands could think of something more original for their concept albums than a post-apocalyptic sci-fi quest. And then I grab Prologue, the debut album from British doomsters Poseidon, and yes, after reading the press clipping, the entire album is an introduction to an ongoing post-apocalyptic opera they are calling “The Medius Chronicle.” So that would be two strikes, but I am going to forge ahead because I have a good feeling about this one. Formed out of the ashes of post-hardcore/prog act Light Bearer, Poseidon drop the hardcore, keep a bit of the prog, and infuse it all with 70s metal, dollops of doom, and a hint of sludge. Sound enticing? It does to me.
This album truly is a prologue, with only four tracks. However, those tracks manage to clock in at an impressive 44 minutes, meaning there could be a few opportunities for bloat here. “The Beginning The End The Colony” is the first cut, thirteen minutes long and with more changeups than any major-league pitcher. Nasty feedback fades in, thick and fuzzy, with pounding floor toms joining the fray after a minute, and at three minutes we’re greeted by the rest of the band, with distorted bass and plodding tempo, we are well on our doomy way. When the most gloriously obnoxious guitar tone kicks off the main riff I can’t help but smile: it’s hard to get a tone like that intentionally, and I applaud the horribleness of it. Anyhow, the clean singing on this epic eventually gives way to raging harsh vocals, the music ebbs and flows like a seascape, and thirteen minutes fly by.
A big plus for Poseidon and their work here is the variety: no, we don’t just have four ten-minute doom epics. “Mother Mary Son of Scorn,” the second cut, is shorter at eight minutes, and begins as a slow, dirge-like ballad, only guitar and vocal. Eventually electric guitar and piano join in with a Pink Floyd flair before the song switches up and centers on a hypnotic kick drum. Well arranged, and again, not boring in the least. “Chainbreaker” is the shortest song here, a six minute Neurosis-like tear, whereas “Omega” closes out the record with sixteen more minutes of Pink Floyd-infused doom. The latter two songs open with voiceovers, the first an angry rant, the second more of a sermon, and both are effective.
My major nitpick with Prologue is the production: it’s too clean and crisp, and the sibilance of the higher frequencies doesn’t fit in at all on an album that’s predominantly doom. The floor toms at the beginning of “The Beginning The End The Colony” should emanate with a throbbing menace, but the artificial click that’s been EQed in during recording neuters that menace. Even though “Mother Mary Son of Scorn” is an acoustic number, that acoustic guitar rings so bright as to once again take away any hint of melancholy. Skewing the EQ away from the treble in favor of bass would have done wonders for Prologue.
That’s just one nitpick, though, and the band overcomes this nitpick with superior songwriting and musicianship. All told, I’m much less upset about the entire album being a post-apocalyptic prologue now than I was before listening. I love being surprised like that. Prologue is an excellent debut from an intriguing new band, and I’m looking forward to hearing what Poseidon have up their sleeves next. Songs of this quality presented in a slightly darker light will push these guys into the higher reaches of the doom echelon.