CURSE THE SON
(Snake Charmer Coalition, March 2016)
A timely reminder not to judge in haste. The brawny but slightly awkward opening title track on this album suggests that the listener is about to enjoy some pummelling stoner doom that pays homage to the greats of the 1990s. Which in itself would be an excellent way to spend an hour or so.
However, as the third full-length release from this US trio – who formed back in 2008 – continues, the creativity blossoms, resulting in a gorgeously rich, energetic and often thoughtful collection of life-affirming stoner misery and magic.
Sludgy heaviness adds muscle to the band’s superior rock sensibilities – think COC on steroids. The bass guitar sounds like a blue whale’s bowels. And the vocals of Ron Vanacore are at times reminiscent of grunge god Chris Cornell (i.e. like a hot knife beneath your fingernails, but packed with personality). Likewise, you can hear echoes of Layne Staley or Dave Wyndorf.
Songs such as ‘Callous Unemotional Traits’ show the musical influence of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, while elsewhere traces of Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard spill out like ale from a keg.
The deeply enjoyable and refreshingly simple ‘Hull Crush Depth’ features a funky Primus-style finale, while ‘Sleepwalker Wakes’ is just a fantastic, stately stoner anthem to chill to.
The album loses a percentage point of energy towards the end, but there’s still some consistently great stuff on offer. ‘Isolator’ is the sound of a mature band willing and able to explore itself, while not sounding like it’s trying too hard. Seriously impressive.