Samtar is the alternative’s alternative one-man band. Alone, he indulges, producing burlesque sounds influenced by System of a Down's Serj Tankian and maybe some Frank Zappa and a little Mike Patton. On Shadow of the King’s Charade, Samtar's weird renaissance and fantasy vibe side-steps the parade of sixth-generation Rolling Stones and Black Sabbaths.
The drifting chorus on album opener “The Shadow From My Dreams” plays to Samtar’s stronger suits—his softer, more restrained vocals and capacity for vocal melody. Hear it at 55 seconds, then at 2:10, capitalized at 2:30. (A guitar solo at 2:50 dissolves the moment.) And Samtar demonstrates his competent falsetto on “Echoes From Across the Sea.”
Although Samtar is not to my taste, I enjoyed sampling it. That enjoyment peaked with “The Man”; a supple acoustic moves, tells an old story under an evocative vocal melody. His nice falsetto again turns to burlesque. The album's best vocal melody comes in the chorus of “You Bleed.” Here, Samtar’s controlled Serj Tankian-like affectation works in the song’s favor.
The production on the album limps, though. Especially the drums. Cymbals rinse away in the background while the drum heads all sound deadened.
Samtar wrote, recorded, and mixed it himself. Shadow of the King's Charade was released January 13.