The term “stoner rock” is pretty lame, but it’ll have to do. I’m pretty stoked on stoner rock not because of its “bong-rattling grooves” and the whole pot angle (boring) but because of its stubborn adherence to old-fashioned musical and production values. Just plug in your guitar and play, man. Unfortunately this scene has produced a lot of cookie cutter bands content to set their sights no higher than producing barely passable facsimiles of Kyuss, early Monster Magnet, or even the mediocre Fu Manchu. There’s a lot of slop clogging up the trough (or resin gumming up the screen).
I keep coming back for more though. Don’t ask me how I ended up with two Electric Wizard albums. I’m not even sure I like them—they’re sloppy, incoherent, and their riffs are completely retarded. They clearly don’t give a fuck, and that’s kind of what keeps me listening, hoping that one day I’ll believe. Plus they’re British, which counts for something with me. They’re the sound of ruination…abysmal in the true sense of the word. Remember Trainspotting, when McGregor tries to retrieve his suppositories down the worst toilet in Scotland? That’s what listening to Electric Wizard reminds me of.
Sweden’s Mammoth Volume are the complete opposite. They can sing, they can play, they’ve got songs that twist and turn, eat their own tails, send out tendrils into your brain. They’re like Yes and Purple and Santana, maybe even the Beatles. If you consider Half Man, Spiritual Beggars, Grand Magus, Abramis Brama and The Quill (the latter two I have yet to check out beyond some MP3s), then it’s apparent that Sweden is mecca for hard rockers worldwide. Mammoth Volume! Rule!
The States sometimes coughs up some interesting bands. I’ve gone on about fuzzular circlenauts Dead Meadow before. Suffice to say I want to be in a band that sounds just like them. I picked up Graveyard Poetry by Abdullah on the weekend, after seeing their name on various year-end lists and hearing the awesome “Black Helicopters.” I have to give them credit for standing out from the crowd, too. Their massed powerchords remind me of Sheavy, but I like Abdullah’s vocalist (Jeff Shirilla, who also writes the majority of the material) better. Sure, they take some cues from Sabbath, but they also incorporate a distinct NWOBHM vibe. Bands like Witchfinder General, Holocaust and Diamond Head come to mind throughout the album. In fact, one song, “Strange Benedictions,” sounds exactly like the latter band’s “Sucking My Love.” I also admire the album for shaking things up tempo-wise, avoiding the sludge-rut that most stoner bands fall into. “Deprogrammed” speeds along like early Metallica before hitting its mid-tempo stride, while the album ends with the punkish “They, The Tyrants.” A fine release from the folks at Meteor City.