Starting off their sludge onslaught with a slick Sabbath-worthy bass intro on their debut EP ‘First Contact‘, Limerick doom trio Steiner get dark and heavy pronto with a tantalizingly seductive feedback-drawn riff on their self-titled opening track, ‘Steiner‘.
They soon kick in the door and bring in the big guns, courtesy of skin man Cian O’Mara on drums. The vocal duties supplied by both Jack Hayes on bass, and guitarist Joshua-Troy Demarco pair perfectly with the gruff, gravelly distortion sound of the rhythm section, and bass effects.
The song structure itself is quite simple – but nonetheless, it’s a surefire way of unleashing internal angst, with Hayes‘ opening lines being ‘I SMOKE THE WORLD!!‘, albeit a little violently. At over 10 minutes in duration, the opening track lays the law down in stone (no pun intended), that this first offering from Steiner has come not only to play ball, but to change the rules of the game.
The deep down-tuning of the strings allows a method of freedom with their slow, but relentless groove, that echos of dashes from doom metal pillars like Candlemass, and The Obsessed.
2. ‘Fine Tilth‘
Brighter than its predecessor, ‘Fine Tilth‘ catches the toe-tapping guitar work from Demarco tying in tightly with Hayes‘ basslines. The vocals (personally speaking), are eerily reminiscent of Bleach-era Kurt Cobain; those driven and scratchy voice-breaks lead the way to a breakdown in off-time beats from O’Mara to the chorus outro, which is a lot heavier than expected (I like it).
The vocals are never forced; they are composed, and delivered in a way that compliments the thick sludgy bassline – I guess Hayes is the perfect man for the job, since he knows better than anyone where the pressure is needed in this niche neck of the metal woods, and this song, in particular, is a fine example of that. His bass, and singing style are a match that is hard to come by, and ‘Fine Tilth‘ lets him waver between soft, and heavy vocal abilities, whilst backed up in tandem by Demarco’s guitar work, and O’Mara’s fine drum skills.
This caught me on the hop. This short but sweet instrumental beauty opens up with a lounge/jazz/funk crossover, with a dash of Jimi Hendrix. Perfect for turning up loud, and getting lost in a groove-laden, funky, and heavy little ditty.
4. ‘Heavy Step’
O’Mara sets the pace with this one as he opens-up with a simple enough drum pace, but then Hayes chips his bass in alongside Demarco’s guitar for a crunchy, upbeat, and headbanging number that compiles different rhythm sets that are off-beat, and tricky to get the timing of.
Overall, this is an incredibly impressive tune that is understandably difficult to play. Remembering the timing in something that is so catchy is a mammoth task – one I certainly envy. Steiner clearly has found their niche among niches, and this to me, is the standout tune on the release.
5. ‘Cognitive Dissonance’
Harmonious and gentle in its intro, the gradually-increasing crescendo culminates in an instrumental outpouring of emotional energy that envelops the listener. It is made for turning up mid-level in a good set of decent earphones, sitting in a comfy chair, and closing your eyes to drift away in solemnity. It’s almost as if one can become detached from the world, and just chill out on a dark evening, when it’s lashing rain outside.
Overall, Steiner really hit the nail on the head here with ‘First Contact‘. From start to finish, this display of ability perfectly encompasses their understanding of this genre, and as this is their first EP, I expect big news from this group in the future.
The influences from metal greats like Black Sabbath, Mastodon, Cirith Ungol, and Crowbar perfectly gel into Steiner’s first delivery into the music business, and hopefully by no means their last. This is an excellent first strike for the Limerick trio, and fingers are crossed for many more bodyblows like this.
Order your copy of “First Strike‘ via this link.