"Souls of Charon"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Chicago has a history of producing some fine "true metal" bands and here's another one. Relentless features Tim Pearson of Deathcult fame stretching his talents in a somewhat different and less extreme direction. Where Deathcult is thrash and death oriented, Relentless focuses on doom and the spirit of early heavy metal.

"Souls of Charon" has six distinct tracks featuring Pearson's strong riffing and excellent guitar work. Unfortunately, the anchor holding this project back is the weak vocal performance of singer Carlee Jackson. I hate to be mean, but she is struggling to be even average here and at her worst, the vocals almost destroy good tracks like "Forever Damned". I appreciate that she is trying for a laidback and eerie style similar to Dorthea from Windhand, but she doesn't come close. The singing is flat throughout...tolerable at best, horrid at worst. Yet any lover of doomy metal riffing will find something to enjoy with Relentless. "Trapped Underground" has a dreary slow feeling befitting its title, "Better Off Dead" is quicker and more aggressive, and "United By Darkness" has an anthemic quality to it. "Final Wishes" is more rootsy than I would have expected, almost with some of that Southern blues tinge. "Forever Damned" would be the top track on the album if it wasn't for Carlee's subpar vocals and the guitar soloing of Mr. Pearson is top notch here. The concluding title track ends with a great hook that reminds me a lot of Thin Lizzy's "Emerald".

Some work needs to be done for Relentless to reach its true potential, but believe me, that potential is there.