Originally written by Jordan Campbell
It seems a bit odd to wrangle words over a piece of music that flows so effortlessly. The eloquent tome in question is Samothrace’s Life’s Trade, a monumental upheaveal of crushing doom. This 45-minute journey has been split into four tracks, each of which sow wretched beauty and hypnotic bliss into crustified, hellwrought vastlands. Despite flowing at the pace of a dead snail being dragged through a tar pit, each note of this funeral doom/post-rock hybrid is as poignant as the one that came before. Somehow managing to eschew the assaultive alienation of the former genre, as well as the bloated, self-serving pretense of the latter, Samothrace have not just taken surprise by the neck. They’ve squeezed every drop of vitality from its spinal column for cathartic purposes of their own benefit, not to mention that of the fortunate few that are savvy enough to partake in the poetic carnage.
It has often been stated that the best bands are those that are impossible to classify. By the same token, it could be argued that the best albums are those that cannot be properly dissected by wordplay. Much like the emotionally draining masterpiece that was Warning’s Watching From A Distance, Life’s Trade transends analysis, and conjures emotions that are better left undescribed. Powered by the unintelligible howls of a man that sounds as if he’s being pulled straight from the earth’s core by his ribcage, this sprawling epic is a tragic vehicle for late-night introsepction and humanistic revelation. The album travels smoothly and slowly, floating in scenery. This deliberate gait, combined with an earthquaking lower end, serves to counterpoint sweeping guitar work that lays numerous traps before ultimately pouncing on its prey with glorious, ascendant soloing.
When a band chooses to experiment with drawn-out song lengths and is left with a resulting scarcity of actual tracks, their overambition is often transparent and the result is underwhelming. Samothrace doesn’t play by the rules, however. This is no mere collection of songs. Moreso, this album is a snapshot of the band’s tortured existence; a chronicle of a specific series of moments that is worth reliving and revisiting again, again, and again.
Why revisit tragedy? Because within tragedy lies revelation. Hope bleeds through their strings and keeps their heart beating — pulsing with the same forlorn melodicism that Daylight Dies can capture in moments of fleeting brilliance. A warm vastness keeps their lungs filled with the breath of vitality — the element that lifts Zebulon Pike to another plane of existence. And their raw wounds, borne of tragedy but not incapable of recovery, accentuate their vulnerability — much in the same way that the aformentioned Warning bares their soul to a chosen few, thus anointing themselves in the process. Another son has been sanctified. Hail Samothrace.