Work on Greenbeard’s third album started four years ago, but numerous line up changes and the dreaded C word delayed things slightly. The wait is over as the Texan Stoner Rock groups third album, aptly titled Variant (Sailor Records/Kozmik Artifactz), is finally with us – it sees them mix fuzzy stoner rock with psychedelic, blues, soul and heavy metal influences.
‘Creatures of the Night’ kicks things off in typical fashion, a four to the floor slice of heavy garage rock complete with a tasty solo. It sets the mood for the rest of the album nicely, well made desert rock with a pleasantly hefty wall of distorted guitars. ‘Exodus’ is the heaviest moment here, a bruising slice of Black Sabbath like metal with good, light touch production work.
They successfully incorporate other influences into tracks like ‘Diamond in the Devil’s Grinder’ – a big bluesy brute with a waltz-like rhythm, a Blues Pills feel and surprisingly effective bursts of saxophone. Sax solos in stoner / desert rock should not work but they do, and they are a refreshing if odd inclusion. The pounding drums and fuzzy riffs of ‘Get in the Car, No Time to Explain’ are blended well with a soulful breakdown three minutes in, made up of gospel type backing singers and a sprightly saxophone solo.
These added elements work well, giving the songs life beyond the chugging melodies and hazed out atmosphere that is typical of the genre. The metallic assault of ‘Burns Like a Basketweave’ is enlivened with a richly bassy, sparse and psychedelic change of pace towards the end. The huge drums and slinky riff of ‘Bare Bones’ closes the curtains on this record by bringing things back to terra firma.
Whilst it may not be the catchiest, Greenbeard successfully mixes their heavy stoner rock with lively metal, blues, soul and psychedelic elements.
7 / 10