As of late, we slumbering Villagers have been drinking deep of the genres that tend to fall on the more extreme end of the spectrum. And, while there is certainly ample time and place for extremity, it's high time for this particular scribe to slip into something a little more comfortable. I crave the sweet embrace of dusty wind-swept fuzz, and, when I’m in this sultry mood, nothing does me right quite like top-shelf legends of the (then-emergent) scene.
I speak...not of Kyuss. But hear me out. Maybe I’m off my rocker, but I don’t think there are many longtime fans of stoner rock willing to state that Lowrider’s seminal Ode To Io isn’t, in fact, one of the greatest albums the genre has produced. A particularly notable designation, given the Swedish (rather than Californian) origin. While Kyuss may have opened the door, Lowrider swaggered over the threshold, shouldering a massive groove and a cut-to-the-chase approach to composition. In many ways, Ode To Io felt like it boiled stoner rock down to its basic essence: big attitude, bigger riffs. Every track on this classic feels essential in its own right, a massive step into fuzz-ridden stardom for the young band. But rather than providing Lowrider a launchpad, Ode To Io served as a trailblazer, allowing a bevy of other bands to come into their own. Lowrider have been around in the 20 years between then and now--a split or a remaster here, concert appearances there. But a proper followup effort was missing from the picture. And so here we are, history lesson complete, Refractions held tight in our white-knuckled grasp.
In the expansive metalverse, doom is my first love. When a band delivers a fat Iommi riff drenched in the fog of genre convention, I am content to sit, passively, in the palm of their momentarily almighty hand.
What ye may not know about this particular scribe is that, in addition to the doom, I also encountered a pretty sizable grunge period in my late teens. Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, et. al. were the name of the game, and the tropes associated with those melancholic wells still run deep in my musical preferences. Thus, when the two combine in unholy matrimony, my cold heart inevitably warms and weeps. This sentiment, of course, leads us to the track before us now--CELLARDOOR’s excellent debut single, released today.
Avatarium has a new album out today, and as I fuck off for a few hours to bask in its undoubted splendor, I'll leave you fine folks with a recycled review of their 2015 debut. The Girl With the Raven Mask fit neatly into that year's AoTY slot, both in the moment and in well-considered retrospect. Without further ado:
So here I sit, basking in the warmth of Jennie-Ann Smith's vocal stylings. In one sense, her voice is a confluence of qualities: Grace Slick's sheer force, Jess (of the Ancient One's) eerie flow, and Jex Thoth's silky smoothness. But in another sense entirely, her tone is sophisticated beyond compare. Every track is imbued with a slightly distinct (yet no less alluring) character, and it is Smith, in large, who is responsible for this brilliant dynamism.
The briefest of perusals through our archives will indicate that we Villagers cover a sizable share of doom (and affiliated genres.) For me, doom and stoner rock are the progenitorial genres--the heavy music that got me into heavy music to begin with. Regrettably, I just haven’t been in the mood for the low ‘n’ slow for some time, and while a number of solid releases have come and gone, nothing has truly drawn me back into the fold.
Not until today, that is, when Fumarole’s latest single, Valley, found its way into our drafty scriptorum...and stayed here, on repeat, for quite some time indeed. And now, gateway opened, I'm clambering inside the doomier corners of the promo pit with grossly wild abandon. Thanks, Fumarole, for your unintentional service. But enough blathering; let's get to the track in question.
Sometimes a band has a almost-but-not-quite grand debut, the kind of album that bears the weight of rookie flaws, but speaks of something larger to come. And then, sometimes, said band delivers tenfold on their next outing, absolutely shattering notions of sophomore slump. And sometimes the groggy-eyed scribe who said he'd review the album in question in a timely manner spends two months mulling over how best to put his emamorment into words. And that lands us here, with Wolf Blood’s II spinning for what seems the umpteenth time.
Wolf Blood is one of those bands who revel in throwing a bevy of ideas at the wall and hoping they stick. Unlike most who engage in such reckless activity, these folks are really damn good at making sure it all stays up there. It’s purely original stuff, and in this business, that's a significant and rare quality.
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.