Samtar – Cryptic Tales From a Vision Obscured

Cryptic Tales From A Vision Obscured Album Cover Art

Samtar – Cryptic Tales From a Vision Obscured
Self-Released
Release Date: 15/10/21
Running Time: 39:38
Review by Steven Hooke
7/10

Of all the things 2021 has given us, it has given music fans a smörgåsbord of albums that would’ve otherwise never existed. From every genre and every tier of success, Taylor Swift, Trivium, IDLES, Wolf Club, clipping., Biffy Clyro, Weezer, Devin Townsend, Lordi, etc., they have all had a pretty substantial amount of free time due to having limited/no touring options, owing to the ongoing pandemic, resulting in quick follow-ups and short turnover between new album releases.

Lest ye be forgotten from that list is Samtar, the Wisconsin-based solo project who at the start of the year, released his second album “The Curse of Infinite Luminosity”, a wonderfully eclectic mix of Prog, Alt Rock, Jazz, Synthwave, Metal, and more. Whilst the rest of us have been getting better at screaming internally about the horrible state of the world, Samtar has been toiling away putting those thoughts into album #3, a considerably darker affair that leans on more Psych and Doom Rock elements for a broodier, more solemn sound.

Compared to the light and bouncy ‘End of the World’ which opens “The Curse of…”, ‘The Deadening’ opens “Cryptic Tales From a Vision Obscured” with an imposing presence, bringing a high-octane energy, but in a very different way, with drum work that has an air of Mastodon’s Brann Dailor about it. The album continues down a Dark Prog avenue, interrupted momentarily by Black Sabbath-esque final act of ‘How Long Do I Stay?’, before a System of a Down-inspired ‘Mother of the Void’ kickstarts a particularly strong run of form, ending with ‘The Abomination’, a great juxtaposing track that combines an upbeat hard rock riff, with a seldom-heard growl from our fair Mr. tar, and a fantastic post-chorus explosion of sound for the bridge.

In one of the more finicky critiques I’ve ever given to an album, the decision to follow-up ‘The World Isn’t Yours’ with a cover of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ on the Spotify version of the album is a startling misfire. The arpeggio’d chord progression of ‘The World Isn’t Yours’ somehow sounds more akin to the legendary Animals version of the song than Samtar’s own version does, and listening to them in sequence hurts them both massively, especially Samtar’s own track. His rendition of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ is still good enough to survive much of the calamity, with Samtar’s rather unique voice belting out notes with a howl very reminiscent of Eric Burdon’s iconic delivery from 1964.

Samtar’s foray into a more serious sound can be seen as an overall success, albeit just not perfect. His musicianship has, for the most part, adapted to the new style, but there does seem to be a slight lack in the same kind of character we saw on “The Curse of Infinite Luminosity”. Of course, the change in theme will be a crucial factor in that, and album highlights ‘The Deadening’, ‘Mother of the Void’ and ‘The Abomination’ prove that all is not lost, building on the framework laid down by ‘Wizard of the Mountains’ and ‘The Science of Irreversible Perception’ from the previous album. But some muted outings on certain tracks result in that loss of character and a resultant dip in fluidity across the release. Samtar’s creativity and willingness to experiment still has him in good stead to fine tune and come back again however, and it’s fascinating to think what he can add to his musical mind palace next.

TRACKLISTING (SPOTIFY):
01. The Deadening
02. The Only Thing She Ever Loved
03. Lost and Cold
04. How Long Do I Stay?
05. Mother of the Void
06. Ritual Night
07. The Abomination
08. The World Isn’t Yours
09. House of the Rising Sun
10. Illusion of the Spirit

LINE-UP:
Samtar – Vocals, All Instruments

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Samtar – The Curse of Infinite Luminosity

The Curse Of Infinite Luminosity Album Cover Art

Samtar – The Curse of Infinite Luminosity
Self-Released
Release Date: 08/01/2021
Running Time: 42:43
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

For an artist to label themselves as “experimental” can usually be considered something of a red flag, owing to the unpredictable nature of the potential sound. System of a Down have branded themselves “experimental” for years, but then again, so has Igorrr, yet they operate on very different ends of the spectrum. Samtar is a wacky mononymous experiment rock project hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, that sits more comfortably towards the realms of SOAD, blending catchy and crying alt rock with prog, pop, funk, hip hop and jazz. The level of “oh that reminds me of…” extends from R.E.M. all the way down to Pertubator.

It starts off well, the light and breezy R.E.M. vibes coming on strong and proud on the appropriately named opener ‘End Of The World’, with the jaunty, crisp guitar shuffles interrupted with twinkling atmospheric electronics. We hear Samtar’s impressive Serj Tankian-esque vocal rise and fall as the song progresses, eventually continuing into ‘Wizard Of The Mountains’, a comparatively minimalist track, but one full of vocal power, as Samtar unleashes a beautiful, cinematic torrent of vocal notes, backed by delicate plinks of guitars and the rumbling of drums.

There is a bit of a small mid-album dip, where there is a tepid feeling of “ordinary”, but the album is quickly saved by the surge of ‘One Is Too Many’ all the way into the closer ‘Island Of Eyes’. Genres, styles and ideas ricochet the listener from one point to another, drawing inspirations from Pearl Jam, hip hop, dark synth rock, Octaves and Tankian’s post-SOAD solo material. ‘The Science Of Irreversible Perception’ in particular sticking out, combining the energy of the recently revived synthwave movement with looming doom rock.

This all serves as a testament to Samtar, the young musician is only two albums into his career and manages to combine musical directions in such a way that it doesn’t sound clunky or discordant, but still largely remains in the same space thematically. It is at times criminally catchy, and combined with its willingness to have such a broad tonal range feels like it has taken more than a few cues from Faith No More.

‘Wizard Of The Mountains (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. End Of The World
02. Shedding The Last Bit
03. Wizard Of The Mountains
04. The Curse Of Infinite Luminosity
05. Awake
06. Life Is A Party
07. One Is Too Many
08. Slipping
09. The Science Of Irreversible Perception
10. Waiting To Di
11. Island Of Eyes

LINE-UP:

Samtar – Everything

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.