Orange Goblin - Time Travelling Blues
Like most in this genre, Orange Goblin are getting versatile, choosing to offer a myriad of sounds
and more importantly songs, cleaning up the production and getting tuneful. So toward this end, we
get as much Kiss, Deep Purple and Mountain as we do Sabbath here, all delivered with tongue in
cheek, really playing on this whole space-brain theme. Vocals are a bit back, limiting your party
connection with the thing, but all in all, consider these guys the fast food version of labelmates
Sheavy, most of this due to the perfectly uneventful production, which is more of a negative than
positive here, again, perhaps exposing the shallow fallow of such a nailed-down genre. One point
penalty for use of a safety harness.
Sleep - Jerusalem
Quite the story here, Sleep birthing through extended labour this 52 minute single track, first in
preparation for release on London, who had offered a six-figure contract (before or after this
doomed ruse?), and then rung the band's bell bottoms right outta town. So left with the
over-budget albatross called Jerusalem, the band eventually broke under the strain and is no more.
And after much bootlegging, rumours and interest, here's its official release. No truck with
commercialism, Jerusalem is often a one chord mudbank of crumbled sludge, making just enough
twists to keep us from nodding off, but really falling to the rear of the current stoner pack.
This is actually a lot like the Melvins with goth bent from Count Raven and The Obsessed.
Production is closer to dirt than clean, but nowhere over the top like Kyuss or Eyehatgod or old
Soilent Green, evoking a plain cheap, unintended quality. Like watching lasagna cook, bubble and
boil and then cool right off so you gotta microwave it.
Hades - SaviorSelf
Yeah yeah, long story, but the basic gist is that this is a comeback record by a fetching, always
well-regarded consortium of bands known as Non-Fiction, Watchtower and (of course) Hades. And
SaviorSelf lives up to the legacy in enigmatic fashion, sorta like if Led Zeppelin decided to
booze Bonham style write a record in Portland (y'know, between the burgs of Bay Area thrash and
the home of Nevermore). It's an absolute thrill to hear a band so squarely heartfelt metallic and
even boxing-stance retro, writing in this strange danger zone, throwing curves into hardcore
politics, acoustic depression, red hot Anthrax rippery, and even a solo vocal through The Lord's
Prayer. But highlight by far is the dug deep groove of To Know One, which somehow combines
Sabbath, Savatage and Aerosmith funk and flips itself into a suicide dirge. Brilliant! And End Of
The Bargain just builds and steamrolls, once more pointing to a songwriting greatness perhaps last
glimpsed within Exodus or a band I used to like as a fogged teen called Metallica (uh, actually I
was in my early 20s). Vocalist Alan Tecchio is another piece of the danger game here, going to the
edge with a variety of styles (once again, when at his best, up there with Warrel Dane), coming
close to crashing, as on Fall, where you can hear the hurt along with a detectable slippage in
tune. I don't know man, there's just a proud, risky, warts-and-all, highly experimental creativity
at work here, coursing vigorously through a record that ends suitably and perplexed, fading out on
the wings of a layered, ironically churchy guitar instrumental called The Athiest. Righteous,
dynamic and unapologetically heavy metal brewage for the new age.
Roachpowder - Viejo Diablo
Probably the best of this quickly crowding corner of metal (now just called stoner rock after
linguistic games with retro, doom and psychedelic metal), Roachpowder are a Swedish thing, fronted
by a Canadian, but pertinently produced by Entombed twiddler Tomas Skogsberg. So there's a
Mudhoney'ed production grime, which coupled with the band's songwriting depth and Corrosion Of
Conformity jones (check out tourism booster New Orleans), make for one full-up,
bubble-blister-boiled piece of deftly unprecise drone metal. Francisco Rencoret's got the presence
of Hetfield, the blues of Pepper and the evil forbode of Wyndorf, so he quite capably drags the
mucked mess along, a crash of sorts that includes all the sound-bitten touchstones of psychedelic,
Sabbath and grunge: three decades of pharmaceutical fuzziness. A rare tab that crosses the stoner
rock line from theoretically cool (easy) to entertaining (hard).
Memory Garden - Verdict Of Posterity
Pure delight for those fans of progressive metal, a genre rapidly growing in authority and
quality, Memory Garden are a Swedish phenom who mix their convolution with a detectable trace of
doom via Memento Mori (Mike Wead produces). Vocally, Stefan Berglund is clear and mid-range for
the genre, dramatically delivering tales of millennial anxiety over dark, slow, complicated beats
that are the antithesis to the flipside of the genre, Helloween and their ilk. Record II after a
debut called Tides.