Chron Goblin – Backwater

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Canada’s Chron Goblin may be a new name on you (well, they were a new name on me, anyway) but they have plied their trade for a few years now and Backwater (Ripple), their third full length release, is a decent hopping-on point. Chron Goblin inhabit that strange hinterland, beloved of late, of attempting to inject new vibes and energy into tropes and styles that were current when flares were still resolutely in fashion.

Given that you’re reading this review on this website, it is a fairly good bet that you’re a fan of Black Sabbath in general and Tony Iommi in particular. As exercises in nostalgia and keeping up with how much Sabbath still influence today’s heavy bands, then you will find much to your liking on this record. The band’s love of the riff is highly in evidence, wrapped around a classic rock sensibility that, for once, sits well with the more obvious stoner and desert rock influences upon which the band have historically built their reputation. One suspects that the band’s membership of the Kyuss fan club is fully paid up.

Backwater sees a band that have honed their craft well and, for the most part, it’s delivered with gusto. The main issue with Backwater isn’t the obvious influences (if you don’t like Kyuss, you need to see me after school for some lessons), nor the all too derivative sleeve art (honestly, this could be from any one of dozens of their ilk). The real issue for Backwater is that the songs just aren’t that memorable. Everything is well put together and played with energy but, as for getting the hairs standing up on the back of your neck? Regrettably, I didn’t get any of those moments and the overall feeling was one of disappointment at what could have been. You know you’re in trouble when you’re thinking to yourself “I quite like track four, what’s that called again?”

Consequently, this is an album of what might have been rather than what is. Whilst there is a decent adherence to the riff rule book, there isn’t anything here that stays too long in the memory. Whilst you’re listening to it, you get the sense that, stoner sensibilities aside, not everything has clicked for them. As records of this ilk go, it’s pretty decent but it’s not quite the infectious and energised masterwork that you suspect the band are hoping for. A creditable record but, on this occasion, the cigars remain in the humidor.

 

6.0/10

 

MAT DAVIES

Jody Seabody and The Whirls – Holographic Slammer

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It is commonplace for bands to state their admiration and inspiration from a wide range of influences and styles, and rightly so, ranging from the classics to lesser known and the newer, but very few can take such a multitude and clearly work them into their fabric. Houston, Texas based Jody Seabody & The Whirls are one such esoteric example that have taken a wide palette and concocted what is an undoubtedly barmy concoction.

The cover for second album Holographic Slammer (Artificial Head) suitably illustrates the colourful, complex and multi-layered proceedings with its 60’s style, vivid psychedelic artwork; and proves a throwback to many of the influences on show. Album opener ‘Two Atmospheres’ is a short number, which clearly resembles some of The Beatles more avant-garde catalogue, before ‘Grassman’ opens up into a huge sonic range from Electric Light Orchestra vocal lines, psychedelic fuzz and prog rock’s unconventional time signatures. Later on there are even nods to Fleetwood Mac and blues rock, before both parts of ‘Charlemagne’ and album closer ‘Fucked Up Adventurous’ turns you on your head with a raw, punk like sound ala Black Flag, changing without warning or easing whatsoever.

Surprisingly, this off-kilter change of pace works very well, adding an extra dimension to the album and keeping in line with the band’s quirky and obscure nature, which shows that nothing is off limits to them. This may not invoke any real new sounds or styles as such, but on Holographic Slammer they have skipped genre boundaries and formed something that is progressive in its scope.

 

7.0/10

 

CHRIS TIPPELL

 

We Hunt Buffalo – Living Ghosts

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Imagine, if you will, the offspring that would be conceived by a three-way between A Perfect Circle, Spiritual Beggars and Mastodon. That’s pretty much what we have here, and it’s wonderful.

Living Ghosts (Fuzzorama) is the second LP from Vancouver cab torturers We Hunt Buffalo. They bill themselves as exponents of “Dirty, Grimy, Fuzz Rock” and they ain’t lyin’, brother. Well not about the fuzz, anyway. Whilst the eponymous first album ticked all three boxes, Living Ghosts has had a lot of the dirt polished off, and sounds tremendously better for it. With fatter bass and some actual use of the mid sliders, the upgrade from self-production to a full studio producer (Jesse Gander of Rain City Recorders) is telling. It has transformed this band from local battle of the bands runners-up into a serious prospect for tours with the likes of BaronessThe SwordKvelertak or even the mighty Mastodon.

The first track ‘Ragnarok’ is a beautiful, expansive extended intro for the majestic prog of ‘Back To The River’, ‘Prairie Oyster’ is a sludgey fuzzfest with huge echoey vocals while ‘Hold On’ backs off the fuzz for a return to the prog vibe featuring a strident guitar line and choral vocals that are simply captivating.

‘Comatose’ features a riff that’s inexplicably (and pleasingly) reminiscent of Big Country. ‘Fear’ is a slow stoner classic and ‘The Barrens’ gives us more country vibe, opening out into what’s clearly their stoner/prog comfort zone. ‘Looking Glass’ is a very on-trend 60’s homage (complete with Hammond organ) that leads us to the last track of the album: ‘Walk Again’ – an introspective piece of shoegazing that, given the strength and context of what’s gone before manages the small miracle of being engaging and fitting rather than tedious.

A theme running through this album is familiarity – it gives the feeling even on first play-through that you’ve rediscovered an old favourite. Sombre yet uplifting, distorted yet clear, it delivers an almost transcendent experience that very few bands can manage.

If you’re a Canuck, you’re in luck – these guys are stomping the hell out of the home grounds. I hope those of us in the rest of the world are lucky enough to see them on tour some time soon.

 

8.5/10

 

PHILIP PAGE

 

Black Space Riders – Refugeeum

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When a band describes themselves as a ‘New Wave of Heavy Psychedelic Spacerock’, it really is hard not to be intrigued. Cue Black Space Riders, a five-piece band from ‘Space’ (well, actually Muenster in Germany, but I guess ‘Space’ sounds cooler). The psychedelic band formed in 2008, and Refugeeum (self-released/Cargo) is their fourth album.

Opening track ‘Vortex Sun’ is a fusion of progressive and psychedelic music, sounding unlike anything else in the music scene at the moment. Their unique style may seem strange, however, there is no deny that BSR are extremely talented. You may think that they would appeal to a rather niche audience, however, their music has been well-received by fans and critics alike.

It is hard to compare Black Space Riders to any other band in the music scene at the moment, however, it is clear that they are influenced by bands such as Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd, mainly due to the heavy yet mind-blowing riffs. It is almost as though they took a space-like/psychedelic twist on the classic metal genre.

It is easy to instantly dismiss music that sounds completely different from anything that you would usually listen to; however, if you enjoy unique and powerful music, then Black Space Riders may be your new favourite band. There is almost a stoner metal/doom element to their sound, which could easily appeal to fans across the progressive metal genre. Although their persona may seem strange or even tacky, Refugeeum is testament that you should not judge a band by their appearance: you may regret it.

 

8.0/10

 

JULIA CONOPO