Stoner rock is often thought of in the same dim light as Doom, but this Italian band has dropped an album that serves as an example of how the two genres differ. While stoner rock and doom both share DNA with Black Sabbath, these guys ride on their riffs with a boogie that share a similar cactus patch as Clutch. They do pay homage to Sabbath, mainly in the singer’s piercing declarations that sound like Ozzy by way of nineties grunge. Their fuzz-laden riffs focus on grooving, rather than carrying the stark undercurrent of aggression that powered Sabbath’s darker guitar sound.
On songs like ‘Superhero Dopeproof’ the band cruises in their Camaros down a stretch of a highway as Atomic Bitchwax. To their credit ‘Superhero Dopeproof’ is a great song title and interesting lyrical concept. Not only on this song but the bulk of the album, drugs are a major theme. Drugs seems to be a major theme of this album, unlike most stoner rock bands they are reflecting upon misadventures with harder narcotics than jazz cabbage. This party vibe is a major factor that separates stoner rock from doom, as there is no sense of loss or wallowing in darkness here.
There is a cool serpentine energy to the tension in the palm-muted riff of ‘Children of Fire and Sacrifices’. This creepiness returns and is possessed by more of a shuffle on ‘Cosmic Ride of the Crystal Skull’, which is also the first song where things move in a more metallic direction. At times their music takes on more of a jammed feel as they bring things down to a simmer on ‘The Pilgrim Son’; the overlap into doom occurs with the stomp here, but this album is not dark enough to be doom.
Gabriele Fiori excels at creating sonic textures through his guitar work when the band diverts into a jam. There is a fine-tuned formula for their bong boogies as the trio set themselves apart from the hundreds of bands doing this sort of thing by leaning into the grunge influences that leave a hint of grimy film on the corners of these songs. The more mellowed shadows of ‘King Snake’ is basically a bong-water-drenched ballad. When they find their way back into the strum of ‘All the Chaos is Mine’ the results are more effective, with more emphasis on melody. There is tension and dynamics that allow Fiori’s vocals more room to weave themselves around the dance of the instrumentation.
The album closes with the band picking up the pace with a brisk Hawkwind-like number. If you are a fan of heady grooves that are rooted in retro-style rock riffs that reek of Sativa then this album might be for you as these guys are high-ly effective at what they do. But is what they do for you? This answer might be subject to change depending on how high you are.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10