A friend sent me a link to this album out of the blue and I’m happy to call it the first great album of 2022. Hailing from Washington State, Swamp Lantern are a doom band that bring a range of influences to the table. Right off the bat, this has the brooding clean vocals and huge guitar sound of classic doom bands. But Swamp Lantern bring so much more to the table, adding quiet passages with an almost medieval vocal feel to them, and then careening into sections with harsh, black metal shrieks and dissonant guitars. There’s a great deal of prog and psychedelic influence as well, and when occasionally some female vocals are added to the mix it reminds me of psych-doom bands like Acid King. The female vocal sections add a great deal to the atmosphere, creating a gothic, southern gospel vibe. And of course, it’s doom, so there are plenty of tasty riffs to sink your teeth into. Halfway into the second track, Still Life, we get what may end up being my riff of the year, a plodding, towering monster of a riff. Glorious stuff. The drumming is really energetic and the relatively short track list keeps the whole album really vibrant considering the slow pace of the music itself. And the guitars are HUGE throughout. Finally, I have to mention the fantastic artwork by Jean Saiz and Thee Crooked Hand. A menagerie of goblins hanging out around a giant goblet of demon blood? Sign me up.
Overall, it’s a wonderful, diverse album that leaves me feeling like it’s Solstice meets Black Sabbath meets Nick Cave meets Sisters of Mercy meets early 2000s Opeth. But really, Swamp Lantern are their own thing, a really unique light on the doom metal landscape, and I can’t wait to hear more from them.