(The title of this post points the way. Axel Stormbreaker wrote it.)
I don’t get new stoner rock. It’s too trippy, psychedelic, or even “forced” for my taste. Normally, psych aspects do provide some shaky thrills, but not if the said riffs sound watered down to a state of indifference. It’s become too blunt, devoid of all nerve, as if a magical fairy showed up, only to cut their balls off in an instant. And believe me, I ain’t edgy for the sake of it, I’ve overplayed albums I don’t dig to the point of exhaustion, just in case I might convince myself that, yes, yes, I get it now, it’s so great and I’m so excited….
….yeah, OK, I may sound a bit of an asshole here. But let’s be honest, most old-timers I’ve known have shared relative thoughts from time to time. It’s the way people are consuming music these days; they won’t digest it properly, so why should any band spend the next three years in crafting a record. Even if the outcome is bound to sound rushed, sloppy, or even tiresome to some, you receive no assurances your effort won’t drift overlooked in the maze of sordid mediocrity.
Still, you should know none of the following records are perfect by any means. But they do offer some hardened guts, honest riffs, and, perhaps, the needed touch that may intrigue a personal flare of interest. They may not count as the cream of the crop, but they’re far too enjoyable to just not recommend. So, to each his own, but this is my 2022 Dark Horse list of Top-5 Booze Records. With the exception of trendy doom, as I take no interest in bands who excel rather at smoking weed, than writing truthful, heartfelt riffs.
Robot God – Worlds Collide
My love’s big for Australia. Especially since their people tend to be either chill, or less troubled, comparatively. Their subconscious dictates they’re partially isolated from the rest of the globe, as most of the world’s problems don’t affect them the same. Jumping into conclusions now, you may say, but even if first impressions may deceive, let’s state most great Aussie bands play either rock ‘n’ roll, or blackened thrash metal. Which means they know how to make their own fun, since it’s the common point both of said sub-genres are fundamentally based on.
All the help you need to comprehend any of the above is a full spin of Worlds Collide, along with a six-pack of cold red beer. Even if its interloping ambience may push some to hasty comparisons to Samsara Blues Experiment, or even Earthless. Robot God is indeed all about outpouring ethereal vibes of delicacy that reach up to the hand of God itself. But it’s their classic rock foundations that deserve equal praise for bonding their psych projections into a spherical, complete vision. Especially when its title track comes on top of the sky itself at 9:15, showcasing an impulse too fervid for any jamming climaxing in comparison.
Trippelgänger – Trip To Hell
Already been there and it’s better than this shithole. And red wine should keep you good company, as it’s the only liquor you enjoy when dining in Hell. Nevertheless, Denmark’s Trippelgänger do share all the gritty, seemingly preposterous characteristic of occult doom rock, without ending up the same black as the heart of the author. By drawing influence from spontaneous creativity in the likes of Black Sabbath, Corrosion of Conformity, Electric Wizard, or even ’70s classic rock, they manage to calibrate their diversity rather naturally, all while laying the foundations of a thoroughly concise effort.
Then again, Trip To Hell is, in fact, a compilation album, even if the majority of its material dates to the year 2022. So, one would expect discrepancies in its internal flow, since its procreators are still exploring their sound. Still, the adequate process of proper remastering has eliminated any relative thoughts, by marking the release as the band’s first studio album. Last I heard, they were looking for someone to press it on vinyl, so book now or cry later my label friends for this is a catch too scarce to find.
Barrel Smoke – Locked ‘n’ Loaded
Soaked barrels ‘n’ loaded guns. Or just a bunch of Belgian outlaws having southern fun the way bearded old-timers once rocked their wheels out to the highway. As most of you have guessed, Locked ‘n’ Loaded offers a refined mix of ’70s rock masters such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ted Nugent, along with a shot of New Orleans bourbon in the vein of Down. Especially since its mid-tempo, playful riffs carry that sweet fragrance of old wood, reminiscent of a suburban highway bar.
That being said, the ideal poison to accompany Locked ‘n’ Loaded must be a full bottle of spicy bourbon. The cheapest kind, preferred by degenerate misfits who reek spilled booze and gunpowder miles afar. This album, it’s groovy, it is dirt, it’s straight-in-your-face obnoxious hard rock. I can only wonder why no one cared to press it on vinyl by now, especially when it flows so much smoother as a whole, instead of divided into stand-alone tracks.
Graven Dägger – Graven Dägger
Graven Dägger plays Argentinian lo-fi dungeon rock. Which means that, even though I find such terms arguably pretentious, their s/t effort is one of the coolest albums I heard last year. Should I compare it to anything, it pretty much feels as if Darkthrone’s Fenriz dug up his 4-track recorder in thought of putting together a ’70s revival album. Fact is, most may receive this rather as a demo-esque version of early Witchcraft, but it’s the sole aspect of certain solos sounding out of tune that grants a substantial diversity to the whole. Graven Dägger is mostly about concealing unfiltered moments of forgotten beauty, all within unconventional, often crude surroundings.
Likewise, even if Argentina may be famous for its wine, I’d pick a high octane brandy to honor the occasion. If only for being a liquor that’s uncherished, even if it’s partially compatible to bluesy sentiments of any kind. Some may, in this regard, feel contrary to how such a nostalgic old-time pilgrimage ends up being strictly instrumental. But just like I prefer to joke in a Manowar-ish, semi-serious manner: “add great vocals, or no vocals at all”.
Blue Heron – Ephemeral
This is fucking incredible. Unlike most recent desert rock, a genre label misused to the point of compulsory legal actions. While I won’t deny there’s huge room for improvement, Blue Heron shows promise for nailing that oldish, nomadic feeling once found in Kyuss, Unida, and other such giants of glories past and gone.
Even if its structural aspects may seem premature to some. Even if “Futurola” may be considered a “Gardenia”-tribute opener, despite its integral worth. Ephemeral‘s tasty grooves may only appeal to strangers who shake tons of road dirt off their worn-out cowboy boots. That same kind who wander aimlessly in the desert, looking for any meaning as to why they belong to this earth we walk upon.
And the vocals, oh, fuck, the vocals, it’s like John Garcia of Kyuss teamed up with Magnus Ekwall of The Quill only to blow our minds. With a bit of ’90s grunge in the mix. I understand this is not a “review”, or even an “opinion” and I couldn’t care any less. If these guys won’t release the next Welcome To Sky Valley in the following few years, I am warning you, I’m coming to New Mexico. Whiskey is the poison and dust is the word.
Barrel Smoke slaps. Once again thanks to No Clean Singing for unearthing obscure treasures for me to enjoy.