Written By: Nameless_n00b_15
I am horrible at cooking. I love a simple recipe involving as few ingredients as possible and minimal effort from the “chef.” Finnish sludge/doom/d-beat rockers Supreme Havoc seem to subscribe to this philosophy as they’re composed of only the essential: drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. The quartet has been together since 2014 and has released two EPs, one in 2015 and another in 2016. One and All marks their first full-length album together and after a quick scan of their promo material, I had one question: Is this just a heavier Mastodon with some doom thrown in or have these four Finns made something special out of this idiosyncratic collection of genre tags?
The answer is not immediately obvious, in part because Supreme Havoc are not an easy band to nail down without comparisons. The guitar tone is absolutely massive, drenched in reverb, and highly reminiscent of Absolution-era Khemmis. Vocalist Mika Hankaniemi’s style resembles Lemmy, but with an extra twenty years of whiskey, cigars, and rage1. The bass is audible and the drums are tight, eliciting no obvious comparisons but rather helping to define Supreme Havoc’s sound. The runtime is very balanced as the band explores sludge/punk and doom in almost equal proportion throughout the album, with only the occasional foray into death metal.
The album commences with “Naught,” a sludge-punk rocker that’s emblematic of one half of the album’s sound, and it’s not until the fourth cut, “Extinct,” hits that the band’s doom sensibilities reveal themselves. “Feral” displays the potential of combining these two styles, opening with lethargic doom and building to a groove-laden sludge-themed headbanger. The best moments on One and All come from the combination of these sounds, but unfortunately, they’re kept largely segregated. The production is well rounded and each instrument is audible, but the guitars and vocals are absolutely the focus of the mix. There are moments in the more chaotic punk sections when the bass can disappear entirely and the kick drum lacks the heft to really nail down the doom sections. While Mika turns in a good performance, his hardcore influenced shout doesn’t reach down low enough during the doom passages and can take some of the force out of the combined offensive of the instruments.
While the above are minor flaws, the most glaring issues are compositional. One and All may have a variety of sounds handled, but what it lacks is a variety of structure. Songs almost universally start fast and end slow or vice versa, and they often lack a satisfying ending due to the band’s binary choice of either cutting out abruptly or fading away into static reverb. This lack of imagination mars even the best song, “Hubris,” which enraptured me with constantly shifting tempos before ending precipitously on a single distorted note. That being said, One and All is still a very tight package, just eight songs blasting forth in a short twenty-eight minutes. The album gains momentum with each successive song as the sonic landscape becomes more diverse from track to track. The deep cuts are the strongest because Supreme Havoc are at their best when switching smoothly from a thick, punk-infused sludge riff into a titanic doom section before blasting their way out the other side with short bursts of quasi-death metal.
My biggest complaint about One and All is it feels like the band held back from really exploring what they’re capable of. The first three cuts on the album are adequate sludge tracks but don’t incorporate much of the genre-hopping dynamism that really makes these songs tick. A band capable of sounding like Mastodon, Khemmis, and God Dethroned all inside the same song and in under six minutes is not something you see every day. Supreme Havoc are capable of doing this on their next record if they lean into the best aspects of what is contained on One and All.