(Released: November 2014)
Play it loud and revel in the madness of Blue Snaggletooth’s joyous, cathartic stoner escapism. Considerable line-up changes since 2011’s debut album ‘Dimension Thule’ do not seem to have affected the Michigan, USA band’s core energy, and sole surviving member and songwriter Chris Taylor has concocted a relentless barrage of excellent riffs that his new colleagues help him to deliver with power and precision.
Taylor’s lyrics centre around classic fantasy and sci-fi themes, adding to the album’s unapologetically vintage vibe. This is definitely natural rather than nostalgic, though – Blue Snaggletooth may be fuelled by the forefathers of 1970s rock and metal, but their skill and vigour ensures that they sound modern and original. You might find traces of Grand Magus, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Priestess, Hawkwind, QOTSA, Pearl Jam or Monster Magnet, but essentially Blue Snaggletooth are their own masters.
‘Beyond Thule’ kicks off with ‘Reptiles’ and it’s immediately clear what’s in store: a wall of crunching guitars that churn out tight, lively riffs. The album’s second song ‘Sleeping Mountain’ is perhaps the standout composition, combining groovy, melancholic and doomy rock with a delicious chorus, and showcasing a penchant for epicness that befits the spectacular lyrical scope.
The second half of the album hints at elements of “proto-doom”, although leaning more towards Budgie and Pentagram than the bleakness of Black Sabbath. There are a few slowed-down moments, such as on the song ‘Gawkers’ (one of the few tracks than drifts off-course slightly), but generally Blue Snaggletooth succumb to the intoxicating lure of high-octane stoner celebration.
A number of the songs are over almost before they begin, resulting in an occasional failure to capitalise on great ideas. But the flip-side of that complaint is that you’re left with an album that is almost entirely trimmed of fat – ‘Beyond Thule’ is a lean and muscular stoner rock beast.