I know it's been awhile. You know, life. Part and parcel of the responsibilities of life require paying the pimp for services rendered, and decades of rendering those services yield physical breakdowns of the sort to stymie your abilities. Regardless, the responsibilities remain, leaving little time for soul replenishment via cherished activities, such as writing about the wonderful, awe inspiring world of stoner metal. But, enough small blocks of time banded together today yield just enough opportunity to introduce to you two fine new albums of stoner bliss.
LUDER - "ADELPHOPHAGIA"
What happens when the intense full throttle sound of Five Horse Johnson's lead guitarist, who loves blues and classic rock, Novadriver's heavy hitting drummer, who loves hard and heavy rock, Small Stone Record's head honcho, who loves the classic sounds of The Who and The Cult, and Slot's dulcet toned vocalist, who loves the mellow sounds of indie rock get together to form a band? The short answer is Luder. Go a bit deeper and the response is an intriguing, unique, deep, soulful blend of styles that yields a sound that surprisingly satisfies a craving you might not have known you had.
One of my all time favorite things is the sound of that wonderful, soul stirring, stoner guitar riff, the kind employed on many great albums by some of the genre's best known and most accomplished artists such as Truckfighters, Dozer, Summoner, Steak, and Kyuss, just to name about half a percent. It is an incredible, vibrant guitar riff and plays well in every setting in which I've ever heard it. I've often wondered how applying that riff style to mellower rock or songs that are perhaps more poppish in nature might improve their sound. With Luder and their latest release "Adelphophagia" my curiosity has been assuaged, and then some. Does it work? HELL, YEAH!!! it works. "Adelphophagia"'s songs are exciting and invigorating, due both to the unique blend of sound and style as well as to the musical talents on full display in each of the piece parts of the band's members.
Luder have been making music for quite a while, hearkening back to 2006 as a culmination of efforts to honor the band Slot, who had lost their guitarist and main creative force, Billy Rivkin, just a few years earlier. Small Stone Records first released Slot's music in 2006. That release stirred 2 of Slot's remaining members, vocalist and bassist Sue Lott and drummer Eddie Alterman, and Five Horse Johnson's guitarist Phil Dürr as well as Small Stone Record's Scott Hamilton, also on guitar, to play Slot's music at SXSW in the spring of 2007. Afterward, the feeling they could, and should, create a fresh style of rock music led to the official formation of Luder and a changing of the guard at drums in which Eddie was replaced by Novadriver's Eric Miller. Soon 2009's "Sonoluminescence" was released, and now "Adelphophagia".
Dürr's guitar charges out of the gate straight away on the opener "Never Liked You" in a prelude of the sonic bursts he has peppered throughout the song. In much the same way Lott flexes big bass muscle in antipodal display to her soothing and confident vocals. The drumwork rides a wave of clearly defined execution, never simply underpinning the more obvious guitarwork. Listening to the varied and brilliant pieces on display here gives you an immediate sense of just how incredibly gifted these musicians are.
In second position is "Astrolabe", a song of psychedelic tendencies, richly layered with compelling and dexterous instrumentation. And again, despite the high powered lead guitar riff hammer of Phil Dürr, the biggest guns might just be from the same person who lays out the sweet sounding vocals as she practically lays waste with her booming, athletic bass licks.
Sublime stoner fuzz accentuated with enveloping avalanche blitzes propel "One Eye" on an engrossing journey, followed by "Heartfelt" with its almost strident riffage encompassed in rich, deep, blended psychedelic tones.
"Ask the Sky" gives Lott a chance to shine even more than usual with her rich, measured vocals, turning on a sublime and haunting charm that stands out as the focal point for the accompanying melody, while the haunting quality of "You Try It" shifts slightly to the dueling guitars of Dürr and Hamilton.
The melody and music of "Dirge" is a tight and powerfully executed anthem of haunting beauty.
A change of pace awaits on "I'm Afraid of Americans", a funky and fun exhibition that throws some unusual sounds into the mix while making it all work effortlessly and seamlessly.
The closer is the slow burning "Remember What I Said". Whether or not you remember what I said today or not doesn't matter so much as remembering the sustained immersion and profound experience of this unique and wonderful album.
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ELVIS DELUXE - "THE STORY SO FAR"
This band from Warsaw, Poland should be considered grizzled veterans of the stoner rock scene having lasted this long from inception in 2003. They seem to be gaining steam as they course along the fuzzy paths of underground metal both in album frequency and musical quality. Forming in 2003 they didn't release their first album, "Lazy", until 2007, followed up after another 4 year elapse with the highly acclaimed "Favourite State of Mind" in 2011. But only 2 years have transpired since and now comes "The Story So Far" ( a promising title of more to come, perhaps ).
Elvis Deluxe have always displayed a knack for the hook and melody of Kyuss-like stoner rock with a garage rock strain, but with this latest release there is a depth and dexterity not always matched on the earlier albums. Having said that, 3 of the songs on this album are from the very early days and feature the original guitarist, Mechu, who had left Elvis Deluxe soon after the release of "Favourite State of Mind". The band did not lose any of its new found momentum, however, and have added a new guitarist who plays on the newest tracks of "The Story So Far".
Current band members include:
Bert Trust - Guitar
Bolek - Guitar
Miko - Drums
Ziemba - Bass / Vocals
"The Story So Far" wastes no time establishing itself as a contender. Out of the gate we are treated to "Yourgodfreed", an eight minute immersion into a measured hypnotic atmosphere that permeates and elevates as it carries you along in its fuzzy hooks and psychedelic connotations.
The style changes up significantly on "No Reason" and "Dark Lovers" in which recognizable stoner riffs are executed in an almost atypical and intriguing manner, while playing enjoyable hooks of pop sensibilities, yet never abandoning the booming riffs and low tuned megablasts of hallmark stoner rock.
"Face It" demonstrates that rare accomplishment of blending bigger than life stoner fuzz riffs with beautiful melody and a memorable hook, punctuated by a closing salvo of naval proportions.
"Something to Hide", "Out of Life", and "The Hope" are all massive onslaughts of measured sound, blasting loud and deep while under strict control.
Elvis Deluxe closes out with a cover of the Stooges' "Search and Destroy", doing more than a credible impression of the classic song by throwing in signature stoner riffs throughout, giving it an incredible and enjoyable sound.
"The Story So Far" immediately goes on the 'Best of Lists' for many stoner rock lovers, myself included. While it faces stiff competition in the coming months from stoner rock royalty and some very heavily anticipated albums, this signature album from Poland's premier metal band is exceptional whether on its own or in the company of other albums of similar stature, so when the curtains close and the dust settles on 2013 there will definitely be a light shining squarely on the brilliance of "The Story So Far".
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