Samtar – Shadow of the Kings Charade
Samtar is a multi-instrumentalist with a penchant for writing songs that he feels, rather than one’s he thinks will be what others want to hear. His blend of styles and genres is eclectic and a bit outrageous, but that is a large part of what makes his music so interesting and different from the rest of the cookie-cutter stuff you hear on the radio today. A turn through an album by Samtar is like a journey through a maze meant to take you to places you didn’t know existed. It is never a dull moment.
- Samtar – Vocals/Guitars/Bass/Drums/Keys
- Jamie Giesen – Bass on Wild Boys, You Bleed
January 13, 2023
- The Shadow From My Dreams
- Cool To Me
- Echoes From Across The Sea
- The Horror Within
- The Man
- The Fool
- You Bleed
- She Will Have Her Revenge
- River Spirit
- Wild Boys
- Lost Vision
- Her Shadow
- Town Of Forgotten Souls
The album opens with a gentle melody, light guitars, jazzy drums, and subdued bass. The vocals are clean and mellow and have a little cry thrown in on some words, giving the track a slightly haunted quality. With a title like “The Shadow From My Dreams,” is it any wonder why there is a bit of a dream-like air to the song? The keyboards are present but seem to hide under the melody for the most part, adding an atmospheric tone to the music. The guitar solo is short but hits pretty hard because of the change in tone, making it stand out much more than it might have had they stayed with the same tuning.
“Cool To Me” has a Desert Rock vibe, shifting almost entirely away from the style of the previous song, proving Samtar is wildly eclectic. This one reminds me a bit of Queens Of The Stone Age. The guitar work is good on this one, fitting into the song’s groove really well. Samtar goes higher in his vocal range, showing he is not tied to a lower register. Then, “Echoes From Across The Sea” comes with another style and additional instruments and sound effects. There is a bit of calliope underpinning the rhythm.
Next, “The Horror Within” opens with eerie guitar work and subdued percussion. The vocals are atmospheric and a bit haunted. There are wind instruments mixed in, but they are much lighter than the overall tone of the song. Good vibrato in the voice before the guitars enter. Samtar has a lot of control over how he sounds, an impressive amount of control. You hear the same thing in “The Man,” but this track has a folk feel to the guitar work. This one is only 96 seconds long, never changes tempo or tone, and just sticks with the tune to the end. The only offbeat things in this are the vocalizations he uses.
“The Fool” goes back to Desert Rock, though this one has some extraterrestrial tones to the keyboards. This one could be played around a campfire at Area 51 and be right on point for the atmosphere. “You Bleed” has a jazzy drum pattern, but the tone is more atmospheric and eerie. The piano is a bit discordant and fits, though it almost feels like it shouldn’t. The harmonies he fuses together often have a different sound or tone, but they work together for some reason.
There is an upbeat yet bluesy tone to “She Will Have Her Revenge.” There is a darker tone to this track, especially with the voice. Samtar stays in a lower register through the verses, though he goes higher and puts a lot more power into the chorus. The music remains the same, which is interesting and very well done. It’s not a “normal” song structure, but it is quite attractive. “River Spirit” has some more melodic guitar work on the disc, though the solo is more melodic and subdued than the riff. The hesitant delivery of the lyrics in places is fascinating. There seems to be a bit of melancholy in the voice.
There is a Blues Brothers western feel to “Wild Boys.” The opening reminds me of them doing the “Rawhide” theme in the country bar at the beginning, though it doesn’t have the same raucous feel throughout. “Lost Vision” is the song that surprised me when it started. That heavy riff is nicely done, and the vocals, with a little extra power behind the breath, fit the track well. This is the heaviest song on the record, but it still has some elements from earlier tracks. It still fits the record’s theme, even though it has a very different sound.
“Her Shadow” goes back to a more acoustic sound for the intro. The vocals are subdued at the beginning, layered to create more depth and emotion. I kept expecting the song to take off and get heavy, but it never did. Holding at that tempo and tone is impressive. I wanted more, but I am still very satisfied with what I got. What a trip! The album wraps with “Town Of Forgotten Souls.” The keys bring a lot of tension, even some fear to mind. Again, I was expecting a guitar to rip out a solo, but that did not happen. I did get some excellent belted notes from the voice, though, which was an excellent addition.
Samtar is not a musician you can easily relegate to a genre of music. There is so much more to this than any one classification can contain. The shifts from song to song, and even within songs, are very well done. Sometimes I wondered how he managed to make the disparate styles work together, and I never got an answer for that. There is so much to this album that trying to unpack it all seems daunting. This is one of those albums you just have to hear to believe.
- Guitars – 8
- Rhythms – 8
- Vocals – 8
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 8
- Overall – 8.20