Ghost Cult is stoked to partner up with San Jose’s Stoner Rock band supreme ZED to debut their new video for their new song ‘Poison Tree’! The track comes from their new album Volume, coming out on July 26th via Ripple Music. The track is sweet and like all of ZED’s videos, the clip is inventive and brain-warping! Check it out right now! Continue reading
Ye gods! Somebody in this band fucking loves a bit of Black Sabbath! Hawkwind and Deep Purple too I’d wager. Now, I’m not normally one for Stoner, Doom or Space Rock, but this album is quite charming, as it has a certain Southern (as in New Orleans, not New Cross) sensibility about it that stops it from descending into the sludgey pit of boredom that bands of those genres so often inhabit. Think of it as Corrosion of Conformity with Ozzy singing and Monster Magnet producing in the early 1970s. Then chuck a bit of Hawkwind at it and you’re done.
The problem with revival bands like this is that they can often struggle to find their own identities. I think Sweat Lodge‘s Talismana (Ripple) suffers a little from this tendancy, as it can often sound like a 70s rock compilation that’s been chopped up & stirred together. On the other hand, their love for that period is obvious and they clearly know their history (only 9 tracks!). The sounds, effects and hooks are all perfectly pitched and it’s frankly astonishing to hear something like this being recorded today. Impressive. So if you like your 70s rock & metal, you’ll love this. Also, if you like modern revival and mid-fi stuff like The Sword, Spiritual Beggars or Wolfmother it should likewise give you an earection.
The album opens with somewhat derivative but wonderfully named ‘Tramplifier’. Standout tracks are ‘Bed of Ashes’ (this could almost be Sabbath), ‘Phoenix Ascent’ (Deep Purpletastic and my favourite), ‘Heavy Head’ (great riffs, lots of layers, varied vocals, a spacey midsection and a cheeky tease of an ending) and ‘Banshee Call’ (a Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac intro that opens out into straight up Diamond Head – lovely).
Top job from a clearly talented and passionate band.
With the profusion of proto-metal, stoner, psychedelic rock acts about the question is, do we really need another one? Zodiac, Blue Pills, Scorpion Child and a host of others are now joined by Stubb and their second full-length release Cry of the Ocean (Ripple). Everything fuzzed up, riffs repeated ad infinitum and laid back languid vocals it would seem that Stubb have all the ingredients to fit into the psych, blues locker and roll out success.
But there is a problem; at times it seems that all the ingredients are part of a formula. It is only by the time track four, ‘Sail Forever’ kicks in that the sense of individualism comes through, as Jack Dickinson’s vocals rise above his intricate guitar work. The ability to put together such involved work is on display on ‘Heartbreaker’, but Dickinson’s vocal performance this time is reminiscent of an off-key punk doing a ballad during the verses, however, when it kicks in it turns into a good track which displays the potential of the band. Stand-out track ‘Devil’s Brew’ has a sense of purpose to the blues tinged classic rock feel as Christopher West (drums) and Peter Holland (bass) drive the track along, though
Throughout this release there is no doubt of the potential in Stubb; but someone needs to sit them down, take that potential (and musical ability) and slap it into shape. At times they stray into early Pink Floyd, Iron Butterfly and Cream territory so much so that it might be best to take any albums they have of those acts away from them until they can work on their own sound, and Dickinson’s vocals range from bluesy to sounding like Roger Waters giving a lecture on life’s lessons.
Despite these criticisms, what Stubb have produced is a solid album within their chosen genre, with the final two tracks –‘Snake Eyes’ and ‘You’ll Never Know’ – showcasing what they can do when they focus. The space the seven-minutes plus of each track allows is enough to doff a cap at what Stubb might become. Overall, this not a bad release, but has too many flaws to make it an essential part of collections of fans of this type of rock.
When you ask some Stoner Rock and Metal bands about their scene, you’ll find a lot of them will not always directly address themselves as being particularly part of it. Ask Weed Is Weed that question? Well you can’t expect that kind of response. They’ve taken the idea of Stoner music and absolutely run with it, sounding like High On Fire on a jam session after smoking a couple. Leading the way are two big names from the Maryland scene in Dave Sherman and Gary Isom who between them have had a hand in the likes of Pentagram, Spirit Caravan and Earthride. So even just from that then, you know that this is going to be an album absolutely stacked with riffs, and that it is.
In fact it is the musicianship on the album which stops it being completely terrible. The band connect brilliantly, bringing a level of groove and heaviness up there with some of the very best bands in the scene at the moment. And it is in the music you should focus, because when we start paying too much attention to the lyrics it all starts falling apart. Obviously they’re not to be taken THAT seriously, but by the sixth track ‘Eat Pussy’ you are beyond the “what are they going on about?” phase. As you’d expect the majority of the album is about getting high, tracks ‘Weed Is Weed’, ‘Big Green Patch’ and ‘Cottonmouth’ are testament to that. Vocally the delivery is strong, but lyrically not so much.
Overall, though, this is a decent album. It won’t be one you stick on all the time, but if you fancy a bit of groove and some heavy riffs with a bit of fun, then Weed Is Weed’s Blunt Force Trauma (Ripple) is on point. This could very well become a stoners’ manifesto.
Sometimes bands don’t feel the need to go off the beaten track into the unknown being happy instead to play exactly the styles that influenced them like a badge of honour. South West England’s own Grifter certainly wear their influences on their sleeves, taking cues from hard rockers ZZ Top and riff maestros like Black Sabbath and Orange Goblin, even finishing here with a cover of the former’s ‘Fairies Wear Boots’.
Such influences have been heard countless times of course and Return Of The Bearded Brethren (Ripple) shows no shred of originality whatsoever. From its tone through to subject matter there is no substance whatsoever that separates this from the countless identikit bands out there.
If you’re not going for individuality then you need write songs that knock it out of the ballpark. Again, this is where this album fails miserably. This brand of riff-based bluesy rock should fill you with adrenaline and give you a craving for whisky, but Grifter don’t even manage to get your foot to tap a little. The riffs are samey and bland whilst the vocals lack any form of swagger and command that such music requires.
Many a band has gone for the route of familiarity and made such sounds their own by being truly killer. ROTBB instead makes Grifter sound like a glorified pub band playing every week at your dingy local.