Saturday, June 15, 2013

Nuclear Dog's Atomic Split: Switchblade Jesus - "Switchblade Jesus" / Ten Foot Wizard - "Return to the Infinite"

If you're standing in the desert, and it's unbearably, insufferably, almost otherwordly hot, with no replenishing liquids anywhere in sight, nor have there been for ages, a condition so barren and sere you've had to settle for the occasional scrawny cactus and the fetid, malodorous secretions within that try to pass for true potability . . . because you thought that was all that was left after long ago leaving behind the life defining oasis brimming with cool, crystal pools, thunderous waterfalls, and rare, exotic entities awash with wonderment and awe, an oasis that infused you with sustenance, conviction, and a confident notion this must be only one such empyrean spot along a long and arduous journey. After a time it became apparent the oasis was a singular stop and so you sustain its memory across the treacherous expanses of banality and tedium, feeding occasionally upon the vapid tidbits that sprout sporadically along the way. But then, almost out of the blue, as you stoop to inspect a small cactus whose pulp in past burgeonings was mildly flavorsome, comes unseen, unsuspecting deliverance like an avalanche of pureness and enrichment, crystal blue refreshment that infuses and soaks you instantly in restorative waves of never before experienced magnificence, pummeling you in wave after wave of sheer pleasure and satisfaction. This oasis you will not leave because there is too much to ever fully experience. Each trip within unveils something new, something that will ultimately and completely satisfy your thirst for the purest, life sustaining libations.

That is stoner rock. An unending, quenching wave that recognizable no matter when or from where you fill your cup, providing the utmost quality and a unique refreshment that is deeply satisfying each time you partake.

Today we partake of two fine and splendid goblets of potent potation. Enjoy.


Upon first listening to Switchblade Jesus you may be hit with some conflicting reactions. They certainly play stoner rock and they sound like much of the rest of the stoner rock world available throughout the webisphere and beyond. But then you realize, hey, they play stoner rock and they sound damn good! There is deep, demonstrable musicianship and passion on each track. That combination is the hallmark of metal acceptability - the ability to not just play and sing, but to demonstrate a fierce, abiding aptitude as well as massively relishing the opportunity to play. Switchblade Jesus go decidedly deep down those pathways with the 8 tracks on this proud, prominent production.

Hailing from oil and tar country, these Texans from Corpus Christi include members:

Peter Quarnstrom - Vocals
Eric Calvert - Guitar
Billy Guerra - Guitar
Jason Beers - Bass
Jon Elizondo - Drums

The opening track is a sweet, melancholy introduction that segues beautifully into the first 'electric' song, "Bastard Son", a powerful blues rock romp that serves mightily as a launching point to the music that follows on both the song and the album. Deep and heavy riffs are overlaid by deft, delirious solos that pierce through the fuzz and distortion coursing through the airwaves. The tempo throughout the album is steady and compelling, always expounding an appetizing blues rock vibe while filling the air with thick filaments of low tuned, deep stoner fuzz. The vocals are perfectly matched with a massive tonal quality adept in range and volume while the twin guitars provide multi-faceted riffs and spellbinding rock licks. Big broadsword bass riffs rumble mightily through the album, while the drums provide buoyant clarity. "The Wolves" follows immediately upon the conclusion of "Bastard Son", hooking the listener deep into molasses thick melodies. "Sick Mouth", "Equinox", "Renegade Riders", and "Copperhead" carry you along on a knee deep river of whiskey, diesel fuel, and sludge, permeating deeply into your pores and setting you up for the climactic and beautifully rendered "Oblivion", a memorable and noteworthy song that easily takes it place in the pantheon of great stoner, blues rock songs.

There are a limited number of rock albums worth our fleeting time and limited resources and you can bet Switchblade Jesus have delivered something well worthy of both.

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Sometimes a one off project turns out to be so good, so popular, it must be carried further along than originally intended. Ten Foot Wizard is such a project, originally intended as a diversion for members of Manchester's Bisonhammer back in 2009 the band has since developed a major life and reputation as a live act of brilliance and heat, culminating in the 2013 release of "Return to the Infinite"

"Return to the Infinite" is a ten track package of dynamite and nitro, wrapped in a big fuzzy ribbon of whiskey soaked blue denim. All the markers are huge on this album. Melody? Yeah, the songs are catchy, hooky, and memorable. Great writing throughout. Vocals? Yeah, the reach and dexterity displayed on this album is a classic rock voice of deep quality and range. No yelling, no thinness, just thick and heavy, matching that of the riff laden guitars. Speaking of guitars - riffs, licks, solos, all incredible, athletic, sweet, and satisfying. Blues is the cornerstone. Fuzz is the echo. Retro, stoner rock is the label. Massiveness is the delivery, with a heaping helping of well done structure. Bass is a gargantuan weapon of thunder rolling reverberations. Drums blast away like grapefruit sized hail on a two by four structure of freshly started houses in the new addition to a classic rock neighborhood. Each song delivers a magnificent and mighty rock experience, beginning with a song straight out of the bicentennial decade, "Rise From Your Grave", with melodic delivery so thick and fierce you could easily envision the dead coming to life just to find tickets to the next live showing. The titles on these 10 songs are brilliant in and of themselves, but the cleverness and ingenuity doesn't stop at the monikers. Devilish, delightful rock tunes, crammed to the brim with thick, gravelly riffs and sunburst solos await you through "Vulture Bitches", "Real Love", and "Medicine". "Six Feet Rising" is eight minutes of slow burning buildup and avalanche delivery. Fun is represented perfectly on "Saturnalia" and "Fuck!", both tunes taking the reins and cutting loose, providing a devilish atmosphere of pleasure with a whiff of brimstone. Hooks aplenty abound on "The Storm", while mossy, sludgy blues swamp licks are hammered out in abandon on "End of the Line". The title track closes this superb album out with a nine minute psychedelic foray laden with a retro rock blues hammer that smolders and fizzes in a buildup of massive melody.

This album is quality and could very well be considered as a top album of the year once all is said and done.

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