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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Album Review: Snail - Terminus

Stoner Rock band names are interesting and fun, wouldn’t you say? Most are clever, many are random, few represent any meaningful trait of the band they represent so won’t necessarily be an indication of what lies in wait when you drop the needle on a recently released tie-dye vinyl. But Snail, intentionally or not, is a name that could represent one of the many quality traits of this kick ass stoner band and their latest release “Terminus”, a trait in which this band is steady and constant, relentlessly bringing the power, seething through the long, slow fuse of stoner jams, super fuzzy riffs, powerful, immutable bass tones, and the inexorable staccato pulsations of the drums, leaving behind a trail of gooey bliss, an excrescence of fuzz and saliva. Snail bring it hard, they bring it heavy, they fuzz the crap out of it, and they never let up, never back down, never come up for air until the opponent has been vanquished. Okay, there’s no real opponent other than the end of the album, but the feeling throughout is a deep and groovy endurance test of tripping fuzz, enjoyable from the first note until the bell rings to end the 10th round.

Snail are in their second incarnation after succumbing to the dark, frightening, and cliched temptations that seem to always seduce rock bands with the individual prizes of sex and drugs, stealing the heart and soul of the whole, eventually leading to break-up and loss of impulse. But enough time fell victim to the slugtrail of Snail’s artistic driving forces that they were resurrected in 2008, stronger than before with a new bandmate among the lineup. Snail are comprised of singer Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch, drummer Marty Dodson, and guitarist Eric Clausen. They very quickly released the much ballyhooed classic of stoner / fuzz rock, “Blood”, a standard of the genre that weighs in heavy with some of the meatiest rock songs to be found embedded in plastic, or encoded in the ether.

After “Blood”’s success Snail found no laurels to rest upon, instead finding new and heightened inspiration in what they wanted to infuse into their music, working diligently toward their latest release, 2012’s “Terminus”.

“Terminus” offers ten exquisite treasures of sound and art that begin with basic melody and structure, infused with the classic intonations of their favorite metal music, most notably the slow tempo stoner sounds that personify their very essence, but also including psychedelic turns and arc-welding sparks of guitar solo virtuosity, as well as all sorts of interesting snippets of pitch that presumably can’t be heard without an enclosed aural apparatus such as headphones or earbuds. Throughout it all is a virtuoso performance on vocals, delivering an adept and interesting inclusion to the mainstay instruments, always with an undercurrent of class, but often with interesting interludes of deviated deliverance. “Terminus” is mature in structure, telling tales of fantasy and adventure through both music and lyrics, never deviating from the essential strength of a song, but instead using a rock solid base as a launching point for all sorts of cool, interesting additions imbued within and throughout the music.

1. “Recursion” kicks off the album with the trademark slow, steady, deep, dark telling of fantasy and discovery. Vocals and guitar highlight the song, while bass and drums drive it through with aplomb and energy. Musical tidbits of interest are ensconced in the instrumental sections, something lying in wait for that tenth or twelfth time through where familiarity breeds delight in discovering what had not been so obvious on previous renditions.
2. “Galaxies’ Lament” picks up the pace both musically and lyrically, touching upon the essence of the universe with catchy lyrics and insistent guitar work, most notably a quick, raging solo that counteracts the methodical notes of the rhythm work from an adept bass and drum undercurrent.
3. “Matchbook” is a duet of sorts, a sing-song back and forth that accentuates a strong, insistent drum rendition throughout and fuzzed to the max guitars.
4. “Hippy Crack” is fast, insistent, with distorted riffs, quick staccato drums, interesting solo leading into an all out assault of screaming vocals, fading into a finale of quick simplicity. Fun, fast, furious, frenetic, and fantastic.
5. “Burn the Flesh” is a relentless harmony of haunting, slow power, a slow burn of stoner excellence utilizing a variety of  guitar emanations overlaying a long, trippy tale of disaster and woe.
6.”Love Theme From Snail” is a psychedelic guitar solo riff with a heavy stoner groove, a chorus of vocal harmony accentuating solo variations throughout.
7. “Ritual” is an insistent beat, slow, with background vocals in great tone, and using stoner guitar riffs when singing the chorus. It is trippy, moody, and ritualistic, just as its name suggests. Many and varied are the buried little interludes of musical deviations that accentuate the long, slow trek through the longest track on the album.
8. “Circles” relies heavily on the structure and strength of the bass and drumbeat throughout, while overlaying more psychotropic and melodic musical snippets in a trance-like state enhanced with low key vocals.
9. “Try to Make It” continues with the psychedelic bent of the latter half of the album, infusing many interesting sounds in, on, and around the rhythm instrumentation, interspersing moments of power guitar before falling back down the hole and into the ongoing trip.
10. “Terminus” closes out the trippy sounds of the album, riding on a single string before being led into the last of the power sections that is the coda for what has been an interesting and well played collection of original power rock paired with adept and intriguing interludes through ephemeral musings.

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