With a mere 2,199 listeners on last.fm, Bulgarian ethno-alternative band Smallman is another one of those underrated bands who have yet to reach worldwide success. Self-released in 2010, “Labyrinth Of Present” is their second album, one having less than 1000 listeners on last.fm, yet with an average of 30 plays/ listener (I personally heard the entire album 6 times so far), this release’s the perfect example of decent material with little recognition, most probably due to the lack of big label / media support.
The album runs at 45 mins with 8 songs and is recommended for fans of Post Metal and the band Tool. In fact, the ambiance of Smallman’s songs is very reminiscent of Tool’s “Right In Two” from the “10 000 Days” album, from the heavy distortion guitar to the ethnic influences (percussion and other instruments – like bagpipes here) which Tool vividly base their sound on. Listen to this following song entitled “The Cube” to fully understand this comparison:
The ethnic influences are especially present in songs like “The Life Of The Yellow Leaf” and “Odyssey“, with the latter one bordering on the experimental genre with its weird tribal vocal lines and percussion, setting a mood that can be best described through the album’s cover artwork. For all you patient listeners, you can stream these songs at the band’s Bandcamp profile (check the Links section below).
Listening to the album in its entirety is quite heavy on the listener; there’s definitely a thick emotional atmosphere surrounding the music, especially with the two ethnic songs mentioned above (although strategically positioned in the album’s middle and ending points). I therefore recommend that you listen to this album without shuffling, or you won’t fully absorb its overall mood and energy.
Smallman might be an underrated band, but “Labyrinth Of Present” is definitely a memorable release that’s building up to be a future success for them. Maybe with their next album and a decent label to back them up, we might see the band catching up to similarly sounding bands like Tool and Rishloo!