Back in the late 90s and early 00s, a band called Mahumodo were ripping up the metal underground, with a progressive blend of metal and progressive atmospherics. I had the pleasure of hearing one or two songs, and I was suitably impressed. However, this was back in 2002 when had no job and no means of acquiring CDs, so once I'd lost the sampler which had featured the songs, I heard little of Mahumodo again, and news of their split in 2003 totally passed me by.
However, early this year, the video for a song called "Like It's Your Last" by Devil Sold His Soul gained quite heavy rotation on the Scuzz channel. There was something indescribably amazing about it that I just couldn't place, but suffice to say, anyone changing the channel while it was on would be on the receiving end of a ranting from me! Turns out, DSHS consisted of most of the previous members of Mahumodo, with a new (and very impressive) vocalist.
And so it was with a fresh five pound note that I ventured down to my local record shop and invested in a copy of the accompanying EP "Darkness Prevails." And proper ***ing immense it is!
The songs have an atmospheric quality which could be likened to Cult Of Luna, or Deftones' less commercial offerings, but also feature some furious and simplistic (yet effective) metal riffing and double-bass drums. Ed Gibb's vocal presence is astounding throughout, whether he's screaming his lungs out (see "Darkness Prevails" and "Clouds") or sending out waves of soaring melodies (particularly in "Some Friend" and "Like It's Your Last"), and Paul Kitney's spine tingling samples and effects only add to the songs; DSHS are one of the few bands (along with Deftones and very few others) where the samples are not superfluous. The guitar and bass work is relatively simplistic, but the driving rhythms and melodic parts compliment the overall feel of the music perfectly. There's no need for any kind of showboating here. Tom Harriman's drumming has some nice intricacies, but he also knows when to crack out some thundering double bass, or a nice driving rhythm to propel the song forward, most notably in the long instrumental outro of "Like It's Your Last."
The band's own description of "ambient, progressive metal" is pretty accurate, and the production on the EP, while not perfect, is sufficient to make the songs sound as "big" as they were obviously intended. While the band follow a similar formula throughout, the songs are distinctive and individual, and even the short, soft interlude of "Liyl" doesn't go by unnoticed.
As a debut effort, "Darkness Prevails" is excellent, and can only bode well for the forthcoming full length. Definitely worth checking out if you liked Mahumodo, or if you're a fan of Deftones, Cult Of Luna, Tool, or any kind of atmospheric heavy music.
I give this a rating of 4/5.
Ed Gibbs - Vocals
Richard Chapple - Guitar
Jonny Renshaw - Guitar
Paul Kitney - Samples
Tom Harriman - Drums
Iain Trotter - Bass