Somnus Throne – Somnus Throne Review

The mysterious and unidentified crew that make up Somnus Throne are said to hail from New Orleans, Texas and L.A., and on their eponymous debut they are content to allow their music to make the introductions for them. Listeners can expect to be greeted by psychedelic stoner doom in the vein of Sleep, High on Fire, and Mastodon, heavy on the massive riffage and song-lengths and light on innovation or originality. Said lack of innovation doesn’t mean there isn’t good stuff brewing in the warbong though, and whoever the musicians may be, they certainly know their way around a sludgified Sabbath riff and how to weave hypnotic mushroom magic through the medium of dirgey repetition. If that’s your cup of LSD, gather your lava lamps and restring the beaded curtain. Things will soon be getting rather…high minded.

First things first is a short intro full of building feedback and creepy sounds, and that’s the last time the band opts for anything short. First track proper, “Sadomancer” is the ten-minute titan you knew was coming, and it has enough ginormous stoner riffs for a song several minutes shorter. I don’t mean that as a criticism exactly, as this is what the genre is all about. You get flattened and oppressed by a few monolithic grooves over an elongated time span and that’s what creates the sense of hypnotic daze. If your receptors are receptive, you’ll get that here as the riffs are solid and contain ample weight. The vocals aren’t the best I’ve heard nor the worst, and as things lumber along I’m reminded of The Melvins as much as I am Sleep or other such stoner lords. If I have a criticism it’s that I’ve heard this exact thing done so many times before with so little variation. Here’s more though, eh? “Shadow Heathen” is much more upbeat and features better vocals (likely from someone else). There’s a much greater psychedelic focus here with trippy, ethereal guitar digressions that make me want to apparate to Woodstock and roll in the mud like a dirty hippie. I like the song’s mixture of urgent energy and lazy dreamscaping and find it an easy mood piece to get caught up in, though it could stand to be 2-3 minutes shorter.

The weakest of the 4 main pieces is “Receptor Antagonist,” and has there ever been a more Fear Factory-sounding song title? While it’s not a bad composition and has compelling aspects, it features less variety and tonal diversity over its 10-plus minutes, thereby making it feel more droning and repetitious. By the 6th or 7th minute I’m ready to tap out and send in a way more stoned version of myself to ride things to the smoky conclusion. Closer “Aetheronaut – Permadose” is the longest song at 14:30, yet it avoids many of the stumbling blocks long-winded stoner doom stubs toes on. The riffs are earth-shaking and monolithic and the vocals take on a more gruff, rough tone that adds a lot to the sonic texture. There are echoes of early Mastodon in the structure and delivery and things stomp along in a mostly satisfying way for much of the generous runtime. Could it be 3-4 minutes shorter? Of course! Is it? Of course not! Such is life in downtown Bongville.

At 47:29 Somnus throne rubs on the furthest boundary of too much of a thing. It’s not impossible to absorb in one sitting but you really need to be in the proper state of something to pull it off. The unnamed players are good at what they do and execute all the genre tropes well, with the guitar-work being quite interesting at times, but the repeated 10-minute clubbings take a lot out of even the hardiest of party seals. A touch more diversity would go far, and when they find that crushing groove, they need to know when to step off it for a bit before regrooving it down your throat 50 more times. The vocals are a mixed bag with what seems like several folks taking a stab at it with varying degrees of success. I prefer the more extreme style heard on the closer, as some of the more whiny lines heard elsewhere aren’t especially compelling.

All things considered, Somnus Throne has a partial triumph on their hands here. It’s solid, mostly enjoyable stoner doom that leans a bit too hard on genre excesses to be fully palatable, but there’s talent and potential here. I’ve heard far more somnambulant takes on the style, and I’m at least interesting in hearing what these strangers do next. If extended beatings with big stoner riffs is your secret shame, book some time in the beanbag and get your Throne on. Fuzz til snacks.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Burning World Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2020

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