Although these two tapes by Smoke were released separately, I still decided to review them in the same bundle. This is due to them both having been recorded in late 2009, and them having been released almost simultaneously by the label Legion Blotan. Both of the tapes were published as a limited edition of 300, with the first 100 being pro-tapes with on-shell prints. The band released their SententiŽn-tape around the same time as these two, and a split CD with ProSatanos a short while later. The ProSatanos-split is this far their only release of that holds studio-recorded material.
If you've heard Smoke before, you know what to expect; raw and improvised black metal with a rehearsal-room soundscape. If you liked the band's earlier material, there's no reason you wouldn't like these two tapes as well. Simple. Both of the tapes have pro-covers with a simple but pleasing monochrome design. Once again, no lyrics are included. There is some dutch writing on both releases, but naturally I don't understand a word of it.
Eeuwigheyt contains ten improvised rehearsal tracks from the late October of 2009, and it has one of the best soundscapes I've heard from Smoke yet. The grainy and hissing (and mis-tuned?) guitar sound is vast enough to fill the ether, but still holds a lot of charater and texture. This sandpaper-like guitar sound is backed by equally lo-fi drums that don't really take up a lot of space, but still manage to bring a lot of content to the songs with their damp pounding and sharp and quick cymbal hits. The songs are mostly fast and simple ones, but the occasional slower moments and rhythmic twists in the guitars keep them going forward.
The vocals are served as low and heavily echoed howls in the distance. Although they sound really good, they're present quite rarely for some reason. This lack of lungs gives the instruments more responsibility in keeping up the drive and atmosphere, which is quite a demand since the improvised songs aren't too innovative or gimmicky. This is where I was surprised: although the tape has its repetitive and really close to downright boring moments, the band seems to have such a good drive going on that the ten-song whole stays interesting for it's length. The kudos of this are to be given to the band's relentless attitude, occasional twists in the riff-department, and for the lo-fi soundscape rubbing me the right way.
This is a good tape for getting to know Smoke. It's somewhat a safe and a bit too long release, but on the other hand it handles the basic execution in a tight and capable manner, leaving me little room to complain. A good demonstration of the band's capabilities, but for sure not the best or most versatile release they can do.
Then it's time to take a trip to the world of "Sermoonen van den Sondaer," which holds eight improvised rehearsal songs from the ninth of September, 2009. Despite it having been recorded around the same time as "Eeuwigheyt," it has an entirely different feel. The drums are louder and more dominant, the guitar has a heavier and a bit clearer sound, and the howling vocals are present a lot more. The overall sound is darker, and the tape has more of the slower moments - although me getting this image might be partially due to the tape's clearer sound bringing the slower moments more easily to one's attention.
The tape's beginning was a letdown for me, as (again) compared to Eeuwigheyt the band's drive and touch with their instruments wasn't good, and the vocals seemed like they were glued on the songs without any compositional logic. Lucky for us listeners, a song or two later everything falls back to their natural places and chaotic violence ensues. I like how the guitar sound brings out new dimensions in the group's expression, but its sound is too buried behind the drums to kick the songs forward, and the echoed howls don't help this fact a lot. The guitar has a sharp edge, but it would've needed more mass. There are some great moments, but overall the tape is really uneven in quality.
"Sermoonen..." is a more daring release than its gray-covered companion, but it's overall of fumbling quality and the problems with its soundscape made it a less pleasing listen for me. Those who think highly of the whole "war metal"-genre and Deiphago's "Filipino Antichrist" might be more into it.