Micro-review Fest, 2012: 5 doom/stoner bands, including Badr Vogu, Pelican, 16, Elder and Low Gravity!
Self-described as Blues/ Death Metal/ Ghettotech, from Oakland, CA, Bädr Vogu and their long player, Exitium, are a second generation Cough (who, it could be argued, are a second-generation Electric Wizard); now, while I love me some Cough and EW, Bädr Vogu don’t quite hit those standards: the drums are a bit stiff, the death-growl vocals seem a bit forced… but overall, at jet engine volume, this is a pretty rocking collection of tunes, particularly “Slumlord Blues,” with its lurching, evil blues….
Next: having written previously about Pelican’s riffs here, their vinyl here, their album cover here, needlessly mentioned them here, and seen them live last September, one may safely assume I enjoy the instrumental doom of the Chicago-via-LA quartet.
It’s true. I genuinely love Pelican. They’re my favorite band of the last few years.
So it pains me to say I don’t like Ataraxia/ Taraxis.
When I saw Pelican live, they played, to me, a perfect set: every freaking song I loved from their catalogue and nothing else.
While that’s awesome, you know what that says to me?
Pelican knows very well which of their songs are filler and which aren’t. Like the Police (strangely?), Pelican tunes are either Truly Great, or Obvious Filler. Ataraxia/ Taraxis is sound-effect-laden/ ambient metal filler.
Feel free to hate me. I hate myself. But it’s just not that interesting or good. They can do better. The best track here, “Parasite Colony,” would still qualify as filler on most of their full-lengths. Hopefully this is only a stop-gap measure before a proper full LP.
Next, we get old-school sludge with 16 and their newest, Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds.
Short version: the Cro-Mag’s Age of Quarrel played at half speed in a faulty cassette player that’s a bit grainy/ staticky. There’s a definite hardcore vibe here, but the music’s too slow to truly be something as NYHC as the Cro-Mags or Agnostic Front.
Is it good? Yeah, it’s sludge done well by guys who know how to do it. But it seems rote and forgettable. 16 are going to work, punching in on time, doing what needs to be done, but there’s nothing new or great here.
And again: here we have Elder and their newest long-player Dead Roots Stirring. Like the above albums, this is exactly what you expect from the band in question: Elder are wildly-detuned 70s-ish doom/stoner metal.
The difference here? Elder, while being wholly unoriginal, are clearly having a good time, and this obvious love comes across on their record. They rock out, man– and you’ll want to, too, while they do. All the tracks are good, but for my money the best is the opener “Gemini,” with its hooks and “I’m coming HOME!” lyric. Even when they get all instrumental in the beginning of “III,” “Laguna Sunrise”-style, it’s still interesting and moving, melodically-speaking.
Lastly, we have arguably the “winner” of these series of micro-reviews (although Elder pretty much are, too): Low Gravity, and their newest (first?) long-player, Incarnadine.
I really dug their late-2010 EP, and this follow-up shows that these Denver-based fuckers are really loving playing what I’d say it stoner metal done so heavily as to become sludge at certain points. There’s a little Fu Manchu, a little Kyuss, a little Lo-Pan, a smidge of Eyehategod, and their own juju.
I don’t know what Incarnadine means. What with the cover image above and the name, there’s a vague E.A. Poe vibe, like Ligeia or something. You know, dead chicks who are/were somehow hot.
“Satellite” almost comes off like a stoner metal LA Guns, with an extended described thingie about pot and stuff; strutting riff; refrain “safe in my satellite,” sounds familiar to anyone who’s gotten high or drunk to escape from Earth, even temporarily. The riffs are protypical sludge/stoner riff, à la Fu Manchu, but the vocals are much more coarse and aggressive than would be expected, and add an interesting newer element to the tunes, something like Dopefight and to a lesser extent Eyehategod again. We fade out with an extended wah-wah stoner solo, something like Phish on (much more) weed…. “Blood Fine,” opens with acoustic chord and a slightly-gained electric lead, vaguely Western, before the Riffs upswell at about 1:43… “Lord of Time” is a ballsy chugger….
Get you some. Give them some love if you can dig it.