Serbia Country of Origin: Serbia

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Type: EP
Release Date: October 17th, 2023
Label: Independent
Genre: Doom, Sludge, Stoner
1. Konx Om Pax
2. Æon Of Horus
3. Nuit
4. Stardust

Review by Vladimir on November 1, 2023.

In the Serbian metal scene, I don’t think that there have been that many releases that really managed to surprise me, although I will admit that some of them have been successful in satisfying my appetite. However, today will be a very interesting release, coming from a band that has recently emerged from the murky depths of Belgrade. In this review, I will be focusing on a release from the Serbian doom/stoner/sludge metal band Smokecastle, and the topic will be their debut EP Stardust, self-released on October 17th. 

The EP begins with a very dark, atmospheric and moody track 'Konx Om Pax' which has some heavy and sludgy guitar riffs from start to finish, while ending with the addition of sound effects. Although it is a very short track which is less than 4 minutes long, it sets up the overall atmosphere of this EP. The following track 'Æon Of Horus' is where the harsh guttural vocals finally come to play, backed up by the wall crushing guitar riff in the verse, creating a much more intimidating and suspenseful mood which is taken even further with the eleven-minute track 'Nuit' and the closing track 'Stardust'. With its total length of 29 minutes, this EP oozes with darkness and death in its songwriting, all the way down to the riffs and the arrangements, and even the entire band performance. Something which I kept telling myself is that this EP feels as if it was made by a bunch of crazed cultists who’ve been worshipping the Elder Gods in their free time. Even one of the biggest highlights on this EP are definitely the riffs, what I personally found to be an even better treat is the overall atmosphere of each song, especially since every one of them conveys a different kind of scenario. The general atmosphere could be described as something between incredibly stellar and highly ominous, depending on the song itself since they all have various emotions. The sound production of this EP is also well done, providing a solid but still sludgy tone of the guitars, heavily distorted bass guitars and the cave reverb on the vocals. 

In my opinion, Stardust is a very good EP and it certainly promises that an upcoming band such as Smokecastle will definitely take their magic even further for their next release. This was so unexpected but it turned out to be a pleasant welcome for me who was not even hoping that a local doom metal band would come out with something that is both good and incredibly dark as well. If you are perhaps a fan of sludgy stoner/doom metal bands with an ominous atmosphere, I suggest that you check out Stardust by Smokecastle, and see where it will take you. 

Rating: 8.4 out of 10