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S.o.M. : Ethno Doom

This Croatian band was originally called Sons of Medjimurje but has since been abbreviated to S.o.M. to allow for international pronunciation. Their musical ties to the local community (Medjimurje) are very strong, which is the reason behind labeling themselves "ethno doom". This does not narrow them down to music connected to their ethnicity and as the band puts it, "the band is not geographically limited and will use any kind of world music that is transferrable to doom [metal]." [note by reviewer: The word in the bracket is my own addition to the quote, put there to make more sense of it's context.] Most of the tracks are local folk songs from Medjimurje, such as 'Mura, Mura', which is about the Mura river that runs by their beloved hometown. The band's ties to the community are so strong that they take on metal in a way that many would consider backwards. As you can read on their MySpace page, "S.o.M. wishes to transmit cultural heritage to younger generations who love heavy metal and to also send out a message to older generations that music which is hard and heavy in expression does not have to be destructive in substance." Spreading metal, in particular doom metal (hehe), as well as re-submitting culture in new forms are two very worthwhile endeavors. Even if you do not like the band's music, S.o.M. is clearly worth praising to the sky.

Sound wise, the band has little in common with most other bands. The riffage sort of defies explanation, but it reminds me of very slow death/thrash with a strong groove. It sounds equal parts urban and tribal, enchanted by what I can only explain to be Eastern European "tribal" dance with elements of folk music. The clean female vocals continue the local folk tradition in an eerie sort of way, and aided by male grunts, the songs audibly portray a lot of strength. In fact, the music as a whole is powerful and towering, like a God that looms above the listener as it sings songs that weave together destiny and creation. This entity could clearly plow down a whole city with it's hand but in its omnipresence calmly follows a reasoning beyond human comprehension.

S.o.M. have been generous enough to provide the demo as a free download - here: http://www.somdoom.com/content/view/67/28 Anyone into chugging doom metal with a knack for headbanging friendliness, or who want to hear an excellent example of how doom metal can be mixed with world music that makes it seem like they aren't two different genres at all, or who simply want doom metal with powerful riffage and a feeling of grandeur should give this album a shot. These guys have, in my opinion, most of the necessary elements for musical gianthood: A new unique style which lingers with the listener long after the album has ended and the mandatory dedication and inventiveness to likely pull this off on many more occasions. They even have a unique image through their positive idealism. What remains to be seen is whether their geographical placement will rob them of their well earned place in the doom metal universe.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Grad se beli *
2. Mura, Mura
3. Sirota sam *
4. Vuprem oči *

1. The town is shining
3. Alone in the world
4. Stare in the sky

Duration : Approx. 32 minutes.

Visit the S.o.M. bandpage.

Reviewed on 01-04-2009 by Arnstein Petersen
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