With one of the most vibrant traditional doom scenes in the country, Texas is host to a number of quality underground riffers, with bands like Orthodox Fuzz, Las Cruces, Elliott’s Keep, Mala Suerte and Wo Fat running a cross between familiar modes of stoner and doom metals while still managing to sound fresh in the process. Under the guidance of the likes of Solitude Aeturnus and at fests like the Dallas Doom Daze, Texas has been able to build a statewide scene from the ground up the old fashioned way: with heavy tunes, camaraderie and killer shows. Throwing their hat in with documentation of the latter is Dallas four-piece Kin of Ettins, whose latest excursion of epic doom storytelling is the Doomed in Dallas live EP through Red Hare Recordings.
With just four songs totaling just under 20 minutes of material, Doomed in Dallas is the kind of no-frills release that typifies the American approach to traditional doom. Taking two tracks from last year’s Tears for Lost Ages full-length (also Red Hare), the title track of this year’s Snake Den Time single and the previously-unaccounted-for closer “Echoes in the Deep,” the EP was captured to tape March 19, 2010, at the Skillman Street Bar, where that night Kin of Ettins shared the stage with Solanum, Pagan Assassin, Lotus Sutra, The Gates of Slumber, Struck by Lightning, Black Tusk, Black Cobra and Weedeater. A packed evening, to be sure, and maybe that’s why Kin of Ettins only had a 20-minute set to show off their doomly wares. In any case, they do the best with it they can, and the recording sounds crisp and definitely live, but with a decent balance of roughness and clarity.
Led by guitarist/vocalist Jötun and lead guitarist Buddaen, the pace of Doomed in Dallas is set on opener “Watchman and Wanderer” from Tears for Lost Ages, and that pace is s-l-o-w. Jötun and Buddaen sound like Pepper Keenan-era C.O.C. played at three-quarter speed, and liberal feedback is strewn throughout the songs, although that’s not to say the six-stringers aren’t right in the pocket with the rhythm section of bassist Donar and drummer KC, because they absolutely are. It’s a live recording, though. One can hope to get a decent representation of the sound, and that’s basically what Doomed in Dallas delivers. “Waking Memory (Mountains)” keeps the plodding tempo of the opener, until slowing it even further, and setting up the more rocking “Snake Den Time,” the catchy riffing of which sits well under Jötun’s memorable chorus. And as a display of their latest material, “Echoes in the Deep” matches well the grandiose feel of the earlier tracks with heavy chugging and a Type O Negative-style vocal inflection.
Like many of their Texas cohorts, Kin of Ettins aren’t necessarily revolutionizing their genre, but if Doomed in Dallas confirms anything, it’s the strength of both the band and the scene that produced it. Even before hearing the EP, I know what Dallas doom sounds like, and that’s a huge step in the scene’s establishing itself. If you’ve never encountered either Kin of Ettins or the Texas brand of heavy, Doomed in Dallas is as good a starting point as any, since it represents proudly the riff-led heritage that has inspired so many of these acts and also gives hope of future works to come with its closer. Quality traditional doom, made in America. Doesn’t ask much by way of indulgence and leaves a mark on its way out. I can’t think of anything more to ask from it than that.Dallas, Kin of Ettins, Red Hare, Texas