Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Cephalopod: Squidlord

There's a strange numbness in some of my extremities. Who knows what that might indicate, but it's just one more shining example of my fleeting youth. I'll do my best to keep typing, but I'll apologize in advance for any abrupt disruption of today's feature. Now that I think of it, perhaps today's sounds are to blame for the loss of senses.

Asheville's Squidlord hardly sound like a band delivering their first album. The eleven instrumental tracks on their self-titled debut may as well be connected as one. Transcending labels like psychedelic, stoner, doom, and sludge is hardly the album's greatest achievement, but it's a hell of a place to start. You're gonna love this.

Using no vocals whatsoever, the band still weaves quite a tale. The riff spikes and shifting tempos chronicle a steady ascent, seemingly insurmountable challenges, climactic passages, and a staggering denouement. Squidlord's narrative buzzes in cyclical fashion, keeping listeners locked in for the better part of a forty-four minute journey at sea.

Discovery's smooth introduction buoys and swells toward an angry stoner sea of epic crashes, while The Whiskey Barrel spills cool breaths and cascading drums. A colossal tapestry of hanging guitars crafts a layered sound that's as gorgeously turbulent as it is ever-progressing. Things get sticky with the sludge of Washed Up, kicking southern licks and lifting tempos into a trot. And doom? Well, Thrown In Jail (Locked Up) is a slow-motion, one-eyed stagger swaying and burning with cosmic strings. Fate is tempted, battles are lost, and the pain of truth is realized.

So all the Heavy Planet essentials are bookmarked, but the album's greatest moments follow on the back end. A meaty southern approach emerges on the confident Vision of the Phoenix and the slow, bass-driven treads of Calling Abraxas. Tide's End warbles and weaves with awesome movement, and Soosah's Tavern chugs, busts bottles, and may be the most fun you'll have all day. Pull after pull, this libation lingers on the tongue.

Squidlord take moments to look back and assess the damage, but more important are their puffed-chest, fist-swinging returns to flattening. Cover to cover, this instrumental trip meets challenges, finds its knees, and emerges for an even more impressive push. Rock-hard stutters somehow complement passages of somber woe. This album gathers moss as it gains momentum. Not many can boast such improbable achievements.


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