Smote’s Genog works as an imaginary soundtrack to a lost mystical tome. In the same way that artists like Bo Hansson entwined themselves with the works of Tolkien in the ‘70s, it’s not hard to feel that there are richly detailed fables behind the shrouded works that haunt the record’s grooves. Steeped in psychedelic folk, drone, Irish folk music, and quite a few more ‘70s Swedish and German touchstones (Pärson Sound, Träd, Gräs Och Stenar, Amon Düül), the record wraps around the listener with an unseen hand. From the outset the tone is dark, the title track nodding into the drone aspect, riding a groove of bass and acoustic plucks, but beset with an inherent darkness that’s hard to escape.

Other tracks let in the light a bit, like the flute encircled “Hlaf,” but creeping at the edges there’s always a feeling of mists and mud. As the record deepens, the bogs and basins that surround Smote’s world are always ready to let the dangers swallow the listener whole. The band’s Daniel Foggin cites the film Hard To Be a God as a key influence, a dark tale of strife and secrecy, soaked in the stench of a society mired in medieval ignorance and hunted by an order that seeks to eradicate innovation. While not a direct soundtrack to the film, it’s nice to get a picture of the horrors that inhabit Foggin’s world. The growls of guitar, altars of ambience, and militant strum of acoustic strings wind through the mind with a fantastical aura. Foggin has expressed a desire to work at world building and it’s hard not to see thatched roofs and acrid smoke form on the horizon as Genog seeps out of the speakers. Genog is as deep and dark a world as any fiction that’s come to light in the past few years.

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