EP Review: Söthis – Trails of Blood

Söthis - Trails of Blood

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with the “old school” revival in the death metal scene is the fact that bands are stating up front that they intend to repeat rather than innovate. It’s not that I don’t like a galloping romp through the riff-laden brutality that permeated death metal in the early ‘90s, it is just that if I really wanted to relive those times I would much rather spin a record by one of the bands that pioneered and perfected it rather than a band that is only paying homage to it. The only real gems that spawn from the OSDM revival scene are a product of innovation fused with the generous riffing and tumultuous instrumental arrangements that hearken back to the days of death metal yesteryear. When done properly, this takes a rather two-dimensional copy and paste approach and transforms it into a three-dimensional record that has movement beyond the clichés that dwell at its core.

Söthis

Using this formula, Oakland’s Söthis show us that they too can take old school Swedish death metal and twist it into something that belongs in the 21st century death metal world, with their debut EP Trails of Blood prompting much acclaim and focusing more attention on this unknown act. It jolts around from crushing riff to crushing riff while also retaining a fairly major focus on creeping melodies that sometimes swell into full-blown displays of grandiose guitar building, and when this occurs tracks like the opener “Obliteration” begin to gain clear headway. That is where the main problem with Trails of Blood rears its head: the points when the band begin to enter this three-dimensional amalgamation of old school death metal and swirling progressive song structures stand so far ahead of the more traditional OSDM-worship that comprises a lot of the core tracks.

The knowledge of their influences and the ability to progress from methods that have had two decades to grow stale is a rare gift, but one that Söthis possess. Trails of Blood is still well beyond the scope of most bands that simply set out to reincarnate the decaying old school death metal vibe. They have the correct magic at their disposal to conjure this corpse that is OSDM from its fetid, mid-1990’s tomb, they just have to learn to project it in a fashion that consistently ushers the sound into the future rather than leave it locked in the past to fade away once more.

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