ALBUM REVIEW: Leather Nun America ‘Buddha Knievel’

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LEATHER NUN AMERICA
‘Buddha Knievel’
Nine Records
(Released: March 2015)
6/10

Not just Leather Nun, but Leather Nun America. Presumably because somewhere in the multiverse there is another bunch of loons who’ve also deemed it the must-have monicker. At least nobody else came up with ‘Buddha Knievel’ as an album title – and why the hell would they?

Anyway, bewildering names aside, this is a solid trouserful of old-fashioned doomy metal. California’s Leather Nun America blend the streetwise vibe of The Obsessed with the melancholic foot-tapping twang of Spirit Caravan, the dusty pallor of Pentagram and plenty of NWOBHM attitude. Leather Nun America have been around for years, helping to keep the “Maryland” sound alive.

Their fourth album gets started with ‘Into Abyss’, a swirling Sabbathian trip, before ‘Warwolf’ kicks in with some groovy Cirith Ungolian bestiality. Despite a promising start, this track loses its momentum, and the album doesn’t fully recover until later on.

In fact, the album’s final two songs are perhaps the strongest. ‘Winter Kill’ is a dark, emotional and sludge-infused exploration, with John Sarnie at his most Wino-ish behind the mic. And ‘Irish Steel’ is an immense rock rumblathon, not quite as Motorhead-ish as some of the band’s early work, but more like a slightly overweight and depressed Judas Priest.

In the album’s middle section, some of the songs don’t quite get into full flight and leave little impression. Only ‘Barghest’ gets the blood pumping, with its early-QOTSA energy, while the slow, sad parable of ‘Priestess’ is let down by plaintive (and plain silly) lyrics.

‘Buddha Knievel’ is an album of creative highs and lows – but when they hit their stride, Leather Nun America unleash some timeless doom riffs to proudly keep the flame burning.

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