Tag Archives: stoner

Naam – Vow

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Mystic tunes welcome the listener to Vow, Naam’s second long player after their debut album in 2009 and their EP in 2012. A mix of psychedelic hard rock and stoner elements create this LP’s character throughout the 11 songs, intros and outros. The title track takes the listener for a ride on a psychedelic wave during which rapids beware the trip from being boring at any moment.

The different intros between the songs bend the bow for a very confident performance. The songs have a clear structure which doesn’t prevent the love of experimentation from being heard. The sound production is pretty raw, lacking a kind of deepness from time to time, although raw sound also is necessary for this kind of music. Finding the balance may be a challenge for further albums.

Nevertheless, lovers of psychedelic hard rock will find everything their heart could wish on Vow: spacy sounds like in Brightest Sight or in the space odyssey Beyond , hard bass lines as in On The Hour, one of my favourite songs on the album by the way, electronic organs, sitars, hard riffs, outbursts and also oppressive moments. Only the vocals may become a bit annoying as time goes on, but this may be an impression which is valid for every psych-rock record ever made, though one must say that the performance here is pretty standard.

In the end, this is a very chilling and at the same time challenging LP for those moments when the lust for Sabbath or Deep Purple grows too strong.


Skincrack – …and Here Comes The Steamroller!

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In fact the steamroller comes a little slowly, but those machines aren’t really known for being race cars but for their power. Power is the quality Skincrack want to broadcast with their debut album, although the opener seems to have a few problems, being a more punkish song compared to the coming outbursts that float somewhere between punk, metal and stoner rock. Walk Away’s refrain melody nevertheless is pretty catchy before a harder riff disrupts it and leaves us with the way darker New. Sombre vocals (I guess there are two singers sharing the vocal parts on the LP) guide trough a solid rock song that doesn’t fear to combine metal-like screams with melodic parts.

One feeling that won’t vanish throughout …and Here Comes The Steamroller! concerns the impression of having heard lots of those parts already in the 90s. Cut Into Pieces then very clearly opens the metal stage for the listeners, and in the beginning you may think that a different band is screaming at you right now. Before coming to a slow end, the song is very straight, making it the strongest of all the coming outbursts in which one often gets the impression of a band trying too hard instead of just mercilessly jumping trough the wall.

The fact that even the feeling of good old grunge arises sometimes just confirms the 90s spirit mentioned above. The vocal style of the “main” vocalist (correct me if I’m wrong) unfortunately takes a lot of power away, being a roughly barking dog that would perfectly fit into an aggressive punk band.

The songs off the second half sometimes offer an impression of crudeness or portliness, which often destroys the flow of the first songs. Celebrity may be considered as an exception, displaying a similar directness as in Cut Into Pieces. The heaviness doesn’t disappear, mission “power” is at least accomplished. Skincrack seem to still be looking for their own style and there surely is much to improve considering song composition and creativity. But you can give these guys a chance in those minutes you just want to be crushed by a steamroller or something.

Cold Fur – Altamont Every Night

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Post stoner core rock something everything. It has become a popular sport to categorise certain bands and their musical style. Let’s say Cold Fur just play rough and noisy rock’n’roll, with a front singer shouting along the whole album in like 11 different ways.

Melodic guitars and more classic riffs also aren’t missing at all, making Altamont Every Night a perfect coffee substitute right from the opener. The punky Cut Of My Jib doesn’t let room to breathe, which is in fact the case for the whole arrangement of this crowd funding financed album, recorded by Steve Albini himself. There is a certain preference for recording rock music in a very raw way these days, which again perfectly fits for this kind of music. You certainly don’t want to imagine hard or stoner rock bands that sound like clean and polished boy groups.

Songs like Just Like Brian Jones combine macabre themes with a huge portion of “what do I care?” and the crazy horse on the cover looks at you saying: “not a damn!” Here we are, dead in the water, and Pigs On Holiday makes sure that any kind of revival is useless. Songs like The Shittiest Story Ever Told and Fat Vampires From Planet Wolf masterfully finalise this half an hour outburst. Needless to say that also Black Sabbath found its place between core and madness, and you may also think to have found a pinch of Refused from time to time.

A record for those mornings you want to smash your alarm clock.

Recommendations: Altamont Every Night, The Shittiest Story Ever Told, Fat Vampires From Planet Wolf

Clutch – Earth Rocker

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“I’m an EARTH! ROCKER! Everybody get the message?!” Well if you don’t you’re probably a little deaf. After more than 20 years, Clutch have released one of their best albums, and many people say that it probably is the best one of the Maryland stoner quartet.

Earth rocker is, although it keeps like every existing cliché about the genre alive, a hard, authentic and bad ass road trip through the desert.  “If you’re gonna do it, do it live on stage, or don’t do it at all!” The opener relentlessly stamps through the sand, leaving the stage for Crucial Velocity, which does exactly the same. Stoner, garage rock, Southern rock and riff rock permanently shake hands, leaving no space for boredom at all, which is a difficult task to undertake nowadays, given that stoner rock often hasn’t really progressed since the 90s.

Clutch obviously had fun recording this LP and juggling around with harmonicas and near cross-over songs like DC Sound Attack! Unto the Breach even offers an excursion into punk rock, underlining the variety of Earth Rocker once more, and we haven’t even reached the middle of the record yet. The bluesy Southern rock track Gone Cold offers a short break to the muscle car engine, or gives the driver the opportunity to have a glass of whisky before hitting the road again.

It is needless to say that lady groove is omnipresent, too.  Points of criticism? More cowbell please!

This is an album which doesn’t take itself too serious, and so shouldn’t you. Just nod your head (you certainly will) and have some fun on the next road trip, even if it’s just to the next mall around the corner with your mini van.

Recommendations: Earth Rocker, DC Sound Attack!, Gone Cold

Elephant on Onyx – EOO Demo

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What are you gonna do when you’re up for some unknown music, given that most of your favourite bands haven’t had a new release yet? Right, read some magazines or go to the internet and trawl bandcamp.

Elephant on Onyx are a band you may (at least for the moment) only meet by chance on one of your internet safaris. Their debut EP (or demo) can be downloaded for free (or for a price of your choice) on their bandcamp site, so this may just be a short appetiser for what’s about to happen.

The four Italian’s 4 track EP often recalls the good old Fu Manchu 90s, although the overall guitar sound contains a stronger prise of heaviness. The start unfortunately comes over like a curtailed experimentation of an electro intro mixed with a short riff that also could easily have been a jingle for some cheap product on a midnight TV program. Predator thankfully saves the day and gives the direction of the characterising sound of 90s stoner and psychedelic rock.

Be it fast parts or doom, Elephant on Onyx do a good overall job, but the listener shouldn’t expect huge innovations of the genre. Moreover, the vocals sometimes drone out in a way that is way too Fu Manchesque, sometimes at the riffs cost. Nevertheless, the changes from heavy stoner parts to psychedelic melodies evoke a pretty good feeling, and one should try this appetiser and remain very curious about the way a potential full album will sound like.

Wo Fat – The Black Code

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Wo who you might ask now? Well, to be honest, I’ve never heard of them before, although they already brought out 3 albums in the last years. The Black Code is number 4. And number 4 is so damn huge that its force and agility left the author a bit speechless in the beginning, and his language may still be too limited to describe what he’s hearing here.

The year 2012 has nearly reached its end when one more stoner tsunami rolls over the world, making the Mayan prophecy again a bit more realistic. 5 songs, 46 minutes, no boredom, and more to discover than you ever have thought stoner rock could potentially give away. I’m damn serious; they even integrated some samba-like parts during this journey to a wasted red planet. The concept of The Black Code is about a space traveler landing on a strange planet. The sound is brachial, not just warm but burning, and it makes the whole story appear pretty secondary to be honest.

Coming back to the vast numbers of influences, the listener might sometimes be comfortably overwhelmed by what he’s about to witness. From doomy parts to stoner riffs, from progressive jam battles to classic riffs, from jazz to samba (again, I’m not kidding!), from blues to metal, from psychedelic to tearing straight forward, and besides, this is so desert that the Chihuahua desert actually decided to change its name into Wo Fat. I know I’m getting too enthusiastic, but just calling them riff-masters is way too understated. They don’t reinvent the stoner rock genre though, but they add a lot of different input to it.

The guitars and the rhythm section sound just the way they have to, totally stereotypically, which in fact is all they have to sound in a first place. It’s all about the arrangements and the playfulness which can make stoner rock far more flexible. Some breaks are so badass that you wish to be right there at the rehearsal or the concert for that moment in order to totally go nuts.

When it comes to the vocals, the lead singer, although he’s one of those typical stoner singers, might appear a bit too gently, which doesn’t really have to be a big negative point; it probably is to be ascribed to the hugeness of Wo Fat‘s all-embracing sound. However, one might not be patient enough to endure the lengthened (blues or psychedelic) parts before the next riff starts off, but this is depending on the hearer’s preferences.

This is something for rockers, dancers, rhythm lovers, head bangers, or whosoever, and certainly a must try for stoners.

Recommendations: songs 1 to 5.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hboz_3m-LJg]

Tweak Bird – Undercover Crops

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Teachers, especially English teachers, often tell their students to follow a rule called “KISS” considering their output, meaning “Keep It Short And Simple”. Tweak Bird are taking this attitude to heart, releasing a short and tight, bluesy and stony EP called Undercover Crops, on which songs with more than 3 minutes playtime already constitute rock operas by their standards.

However, electronics also have entered the Illinois duet’s repertory, even if it’s only for the intro track, telling us that indeed “everyone is paranoid”. What follows is the well known Tweak Bird sound; maybe a bit less dirty than on the self-titled predecessor. The second track People could and will easily be taken for one of the songs on the 2010 release.

For the rest, the two brothers just did a solid “KISS”-EP, recording things just the way they’ve been used to record their view of rock’n’roll, mixed with maybe a bit more melodic parts compared to the early releases, but still maintaining the good old head bang moments.

Undercover Crops is a 15 minute KISS, with nothing new to discover, but absolutely suitable for a rock’n’roll appetiser. If you want to know more about the typical Tweak Bird sound in detail, just have a listen, or have a look at an earlier review here.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs43WaE21Zw]