Smith & Swanson

Smith & Swanson

Finding they had a good working relationship, a pair of like-minded musicians found themselves working […]
By Mark Machlay
April 12, 2022
Smith & Swanson - Smith & Swanson album cover

Finding they had a good working relationship, a pair of like-minded musicians found themselves working together on and created the project SMITH & SWANSON, releasing their debut self-titled album on February 25, 2022. American vocalist, Phil Swanson has been working with German multi-instrumentalist Tim Schmidt since 2006 in a band called SEAMOUNT. Swanson himself holds quite the name in the heavy metal underground with a recognizable voice and an interesting lyricist playing with several bands such as VESTAL CLARET, ATLANTE KODEX, HOURS OF 13, UPWARDS OF ENDTIME, NIGHTBITCH, BITON RITES, LORDS OF TRIUMPH, SUMERLANDS and SOLEMN LAMENT. Schmidt, on the other hand, is known primarily as a guitarist but dabbles in several instruments recording for NAKED STAR as well as the sludge/doom metal juggernaut THRONEHAMMER. They apparently drifted apart over the years until, in 2019, they did an Ep under the SMITH & SWANSON moniker. This caught the attention of No Remorse Records who then offered to release a full-length album. They seem dead set in the doom metal or heavy metal persuasion, having been in several different bands with varying degrees of these styles.

It seems that after a long break from SEAMOUNT, Swanson and Schmidt started recording a few demos that was more in vein of melodic heavy doom metal. The eventual 3 song demo - released as a digital EP - was uploaded to Youtube and they were then approached by No Remorse Records to make more. What resulted was a 7-song album made for fans of all eras of BLACK SABBATH and JUDAS PRIEST and had a true spirit for heavy metal music. When they initially approached the songs, they had a much heavier intent as they were songs that were meant to possibly be fodder for eventual SEAMOUNT record but as they fleshed out more and more ideas after being picked up by No Remorse Records, it seemed they leaned much more into the melodic metal side of things. Swanson admits, "We are not working with a template we are just doing our natural thing for better or worse."

I'm going to say this, the two SEAMOUNT members certainly know their craft but this project seems a bit self-indulgent even though it only spans seven tracks. Opening track "No Colors" does little to grab my attention as it slowly, doomily plods through familiar ground constantly slamming down on the open root note on the guitar with sparse accompaniment and typical heady OZZY OSBOURNE like delivery done in the early BLACK SABBATH style until it kind of builds to a close before giving away to clean guitar and Phil Swanson droning on like he's a in deep drug trip. Thankfully, next track "Like Glass" picks up the speed a bit, sounding more like if Zakk Wylde joined the band with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY-like licks complete with wah-filled pentatonic rooted lead bits leaked throughout. Even the chorus of "Refuse" got me banging my head with an almost nod to DEEP PURPLE sensibilities. Those are the highlights though as the JUDAS PRIEST-like riffages of "Worms" and "Bastard" did little to raise my opinion that the album seems more like a 43-something minute jam session more than a coherent album.

7 / 10









"Smith & Swanson" Track-listing:

1. No Colors
2. Like Glass
3. Refuse
4. Lucifer and Diana
5. Bastard
6. Song for Harry
7. Worms

Smith & Swanson Lineup:

Tim Schmidt - Guitars
Phil Swanson - Vocals

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