Wretch: Kyuss

Rating: 75%

kyuss_wretchSo, for a debut I am disappointed in the quality of the production. That is my biggest complaint. When you turn it up, there is much background noise. Now, with that said, the year was 1991. Kyuss had to compete with the music scene. Grunge was all over the airwaves. Groove Metal was on the rise as was  Nu Metal. Coming onto stage, but not in popularity of the music scene, was Sludge Metal and Stoner Metal.

The musicianship is pretty good. You have drummer Brant Bjork, bassist Nick Oliveri, (Chris Cockrell is bass on songs 4 and 6), guitarist Josh Homme, and vocalist John Garcia. These guys had to start somewhere and “Wretch” was it.

Musically, this band has some good flavor in their sound. It’s a bit raw and plain at times. It’s toned down to give the sound of the guitars a deeper sound. The chords are basic, some good riffs and decent solos. The bass guitar sticks out and sounds good. Plenty of decent drumming. Vocally, it has a style more of the whine, but it’s a mix that compliments the music. The music itself is pretty heavy. It can be Punk at times. The best songs on this album are “Son of a Bitch” and “Big Bikes.” These two tracks alone really showcase the music of the band. This is still a solid album despite it’s overall production and rough sound.

Track listing:

1. “(Beginning of What’s About to Happen) Hwy 74” 4:43
2. “Love Has Passed Me By” 3:12
3. “Son of a Bitch”  6:03
4. “Black Widow” 2:44
5. “Katzenjammer”  2:23
6. “Deadly Kiss” 5:05
7. “The Law”  7:53
8. “Isolation” 2:48
9. “I’m Not”  4:39
10. “Big Bikes” 5:01
11. “Stage III” 4:14

Royal Blood by Royal Blood

Rating: 90%

Original artwork by Dan Hillier, a London based contemporary artist. A person covered in a mask stands in the centre frame. The mask extends upwards to reveal a starry sky inside the restraints of the mask, while the person's clothes reveal an outdoor forest scenario inside the restraints of the clothing.

Royal Blood is a duo comprised of Mike Kerr who plays bass and sings and Ben Thatcher who drums. Royal Blood comes from Worthing, West Sussex and was formed in 2013. They would release several singles, that would primarily build up to their full self-titled album, released August 25, 2014. Royal Blood provides the audience with a very dirty style and would peak the US Hard Rock Charts at #1 upon release of their self-titled album. Listening to this album one could understand why.

Recording of the album took place through Warner Bros and it was a grueling process for the band and producers alike. Royal Blood did not want any overdubbing or sound samples. This is off the path compared to most popular bands today. For those who do not know or understand the term overdubbing, it is when a band records a song, while listening to it. Since Royal Blood did overdub any of these songs, it gave the album a nice rich, natural sound.

Royal Blood’s self-titled album starts off strong with “Out of the Black.” Listening to this song makes you question if Kerr is playing a bass or an electric. In fact for the longest time I assumed it was electric and found out to my disappointment when I tried to look up the notes to play it on my electric guitar. There is never a dull moment in this album. Most rock albums today have a song or two that is slow and maybe containing an acoustic guitar with the typical classic rock like drum beats, but not this album. Royal Blood makes this album original. Kerr’s bass work and the sounds he produces on it are phenomenal. Thatcher’s drum beats are both heavy and give the audience an easy beat to headbang to. I could not begin to imagine their influences, let alone compare them to any other hard/stoner rock band today. Every song is easy enough to follow so you can jump right in and crank the volume on whatever device you are currently listening to it on. I think it is also notable to discuss their album artwork. Den Hillier’s “Pachamama” was the inspiration behind this artwork, Pachamama meaning “Mother Earth.” In fact this album artwork would go on to win the award for Best Art Vinyl 2014.

Royal Blood’s self-titled album gives anyone the capability to listen to it. Any age group can appreciate the music that they provide in this album. I am one who is excited for any new material Royal Blood may produce later down the road.

Track Listing:

  1. Out of the Black
  2. Come on Over
  3. Figure it Out
  4. You Can Be So Cruel
  5. Blood Hands
  6. Little Monster
  7. Loose Change
  8. Careless
  9. Ten Tonne Skeleton
  10. Better Strangers

Members:

  • Mike Kerr – bass, vocals
  • Ben Thatcher – drums

Amusing the Amazing: Slo Burn

Rating: 90%

Amusing_the_Amazing.jpgIf you like the band Kyuss, then Slo Burn is a continuation of that band, for the most part. Slo Burn was a California Stoner Rock/Metal band formed in 1996. Slo Burn featured ex-Kyuss member John Garcia on vocals, Chris Hale on guitar, Damon Garrison on bass guitar and Brady Houghton on drums. In 1996, Slo Burn released their first demo. In 1997, the “Amusing the Amazing” EP was released. Later the demo sessions and the EP were released together on several of the unofficial “Amusing the Amazing” reissues. You can tell the difference in the sound quality when listening to the the reissue.

The music structure is very raw, gritty and with very little to no treble toned down guitar sound and in some portions, the sound is flattened. This record has a good collection of tempos and grooves throughout the EP. Lots of leads and fills and some weird guitar rhythm sections.  The album is very bass heavy and some pretty good drum work. John Garcia vocals are raw, somewhat whinny and can be a bit drawn out in spots. But this is what makes his vocal style sound pretty good and unique.

EP

1. The Prizefighter
2. Muezli
3. Pilot the Dune
4. July

Demo

1. Wheel Fall
2. Positiva
3. Cactus Jumper
4. Round Trip
5. Snake Hips

Wolfmother by Wolfmother

Rating: 90%

Wolfmother album cover.jpg

Rocking from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia is Wolfmother. This stoner/hard rock band came out of the corner swinging away and knocking any who heard them out. Their premiere EP, Wolfmother would be released April 18, 2006 and would showcase hits such as “Woman,” “Dimension,” and “The Joker And The Thief.” They would record their self-titled album through Modular Recordings, a small independent label from Australia.

Wolfmother’s influences can be tied to Led Zeppelin. Just listen to Andrew Stockdale’s vocals and his guitar riffs and all of sudden you feel as if Led Zeppelin from the 60’s has been reincarnated and playing as Wolfmother. Stockdale’s solos and heavy guitar riffs are easy for anyone to follow, making this an album not only enjoyable to listen to alone, but as you play air guitar while your pals are playing air drums and bass. Throughout the album you just want to rock, plain and simple. Myles Heskett’s drum beats reflect a classic rock style with influences of early heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath, which adds to the impact of their songs.

Wolfmother opens up their self-titled EP with “Dimension” and the gates of Hell are opened with it. Within the first 15 seconds you hear a blood curdling yell from Andrew followed by the great bass and drum riffs that rattle your brain. The song builds and throws the listener into another dimension. The audience is then thrown a curve ball with “White Unicorn.” This song definitely has noticeable Led Zeppelin influences. The nice clean riffs to open the song bring one back to the 1960’s.”Woman” provides the audience with another example of classic Led Zeppelin. The album follows later with “Where Eagles Have Been.” This songs provides very harmonic melodies over heavy riffs, throwing the audience in every which direction. The nice, classic solo enters and makes you wanna grab your air guitar and slide down the hallway of your school or work. “The Joker And The Thief” starts out with an amazing riff that Andrew lays out for us and is supported by  Myles’ heavy drum line. Wolfmother finishes the album off strong with “Vagabond.” This song provides an easy outro to the album. Don’t let the word easy sway your opinion of the ending. “Vagabond” has a good mix of acoustic and electric guitar with a killer drum beat about a minute and a half in. It is just a good way to end the album.

Wolfmother’s self-titled album definitely helped to redefine what rock was for the masses when they released this album in 2006. No matter how many times you listen to it you want to go back for more.

Track Listing:

  1. Dimension
  2. White Unicorn
  3. Woman
  4. Where Eagles Have Been
  5. Apple Tree
  6. Joker And The Thief
  7. Colossal
  8. Mind’s Eye
  9. Pyramid
  10. Witchcraft
  11. Tales
  12. Love Train
  13. Vagabond

Members:

  • Andrew Stockdale – vocals, guitar
  • Chris Ross – bass, keyboard
  • Myles Heskett – drums