Another outfit from the lysergic dreamlands of San Diego, Sacri Monti left a sizeable impression with their self-titled 2015 debut album (Tee Pee Records) which was a psychedelic trip through heavy vibes. The quintet’s sophomore effort, Waiting Room For The Magic Hour (Tee Pee Records), is another faithful journey through drifting sands and heady atmospheres but shows a pleasing maturity and willingness to experiment.
The opening title track is a mad, squealing bluster, the deliciously dated production enhancing the effect of howling guitars and organ, while Brendan Dellar‘s emotional wail gets wonderful reverb. It’s an incredibly technical opening, and that it’s made to feel warm and organic is a testament to the skills the band have honed over the last four years. The ensuing ‘Fear And Fire’ begins delicately, an easy Americana jangle leading into a solo frenzy, dictated marvellously by Thomas Dibenedetto‘s huge yet dextrous stickwork. The dual lead attack of Dellar and Dylan Donovan, however, is the major factor in the ebbs and flows: so busy and frenetic during the euphoric highs, so mellow and plaintive through the melancholic lulls.
The really startling factor in Sacri Monti’s sound is its hectic nature, the amount of switches and chords crammed into a short space of time. The brief ‘Armistice’ is a Prog-Psych dazzler, led by Evan Wenskay‘s electrifying organ and some of the most fluid heavy drumming you’ll hear, those throaty leads flickering into crazed life as the track advances. ‘Starlight’, meanwhile, though largely a midnight Blues ballad, still shimmers with intermittent, occasionally searing leadwork and Anthony Meier‘s fluid bass rhythms. Organ and drums dictate the more urgent second half but the whole track is a kaleidoscopic journey of wonder. The glorious ‘Affirmation’ begins in an eerie fashion, true Occult organ leading in a gentle acoustic strum and a mournful slide guitar. Here the swell is all Southern Rock, profound and exquisite, the duel between the guitars utterly jaw-dropping, Dellar’s vocal an eagle gliding on the air.
The more scarring ‘Gone From Grace’ even includes the sound of the second electric guitar being replugged, but continues the display of raw, barely-controlled emotion: Dellar coming over all Tim Rose circa ‘Morning Dew’; the duel riff in perfect synch with the organ; the cascading and fluctuating midriff a free form of expression yet staggeringly, in perfect accompaniment with every other ingredient. This segues with cosmic beauty into the penultimate ‘Wading In Malcesine’, another interlude full of gorgeous, spatial synth and howls of Eastern-flavoured guitar. As befits a seriously immersive experience, closer ‘You Beautiful Demon’ is a lush piece of reverbed Folk-Americana: wholly unexpected and, as Waiting Room For The Magic Hour has done right from its grand entrance, keeping the listener on their toes while drenching them in acid-fuelled, startling, often gorgeous heaviness. This, my friends, is some album.
8 / 10