Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sun Rider - Fuzz Mountain (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 24/10/2014
Label: Self Released

Fuzz Mountain” LP/DD  track list:

1). Heart of the Sun
2). High Priestess of the Moon
3). Sun Worshipper
4). Free Ride
5). Deep Space Blues
6). Roadking
7). Escape to Fuzz Mountain


With over fifteen years of experience playing heavy music together in the same line-up, the five piece Sun Rider is finally ready to unleash their debut album: Fuzz Mountain. Before making the transition to stoner rock, the band was known as Headhaunter. They plagued stages throughout western Europe and Poland with their frantic mix of hardcore and metal. They never lost this energetic attitude towards their live shows but their musical influences changed and under the new moniker Sun Rider they are planning to conquer the hearts and mins of all those who love stoner rock, fuzzy guitar sounds, insane riffs, desert blues and breakneck grooves.
The Band: 

Mark Stevens | Guitar/Vocals
Michael Philippo | Vocals
Gert-Jan Kruijthoff | Guitar
Giel van Arkel | Bass
Erik Reppel | Drums


Crazy weird artwork adorns the front of Sun Rider's newest records “Fuzz Mountain.” Immediately letting you know that ye shall return to the 70s with retro styling and early 60s counterculture coloring, a deep and stoned jam assault awaits. Swirling psychedelia begins our journey together, resolving quickly into a bouncy galloping riff under shockingly hardcore vocals?  No seriously, the vocals are an unexpected, pleasant, and strangely compelling fit in their heaviness. It gives Sun Rider a much rawer edge than a lot of the current crop of retro throwbacks (LOOKING AT YOU MARS RED SKY J/K) and they come off as the Motorhead of the current crop. ‘This is a band that gets shitfaced at shows and isn't an “art project” its a heavy rock band’.

The second track “High Priestess of the Moon” the vocals clean up a touch but it's still a raw bellow. A fantastic slew of groovy riffs cascade throughout this track and the cool solo/breakdown in the middle is monumentally cool songwriting in the entry and exit from this section. The tasteful leads bouncing around the bridge vocals are purely awesome and have an authenticity that doesn't feel forced. A harrowingly smile-inducing obnoxious solo (as all great rock solos should be) rounds out the end of the bridge - great stuff here. The solo in the third track “Sun Worshipper” is my favourite, some great wah tones and the soloist does a great job varying his phrasing up a lot and keeps it really interesting.

The second longest track coming in at number four, “Free Ride” begins with a slightly ominous echoy melody that builds into a big unison riff. A obvious Orange Goblin influence on this track, it has that same kind of swagger and groove. There's a section around 4:30 that sounds vaguely familiar as well, but Sun Rider then takes a quick little melodic detour into the next verse. These little changes and transitions are sprinkled throughout the record and are really what takes this to the next level. There is some very mature songwriting being displayed here during these shifts and the effects are used in a very tasteful way. The tremolo on the end section of “Free Ride” is a great example of this.

“Deep Space Blues” is the most obviously Palm Desert influenced piece on this with some nice Homme-esque dual lead melodies on the verses and some riffing that incorporates sliding power chords on the chorus. A great solo straddles the middle of this song, my only critique is the lyric, “going home” is repeated quite a few times throughout, this is not Saturday and you are not Elton John. The second to last track “Roadking” has another fast galloping verse but this one is livelier with some fast slides and a nice little breaks at the end of each phrase. The open bouncing drumming during the first part of the choruses are great too.

Sitar!?! Or perhaps a heavily effected acoustic guitar begins the final and longest track “Escape to Fuzz Mountain.” A strange and pretty neat lead guitar riff over heavy riffing commences into a choppy furious verse. This is the song that lets you know this band doesn't just drink, they smoke weed occasionally too. This becomes more apparent as the track moves forward, there's some trippy weirdness in the lead guitar and the transition at about 4:14 is weird and pretty much amazing. The hint of phase sometimes swirling on the outskirts of the mix gives some of the sections a nice ambiance. The bridge that begins around the 5:40 mark is a nice and hugely open too, into what feels like a tempo downshift and the sparse guitar melodies and the riff here is ace. Epic in scope and execution you can bet this song crushes live and I would be inclined to say it's the best song on the album. The band most likely agrees since they named the album after this song.

These guy's list Kyuss and QOTSA as an influence, but they’re shade more heavier towards Orange Goblin then anyone else, but still sound completely different than them in their song writing and vocal styling. A simple album integrating all the fun parts of heavy underground rock, get this if you like your music entertaining.

Available on vinyl and DD below.

Words by: Chris Tedor

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