Saturday, 7 February 2015

Shepherd - Stereolithic Riffalocalypse (Album Review)

Stereolithic Riffalocalypse cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 01st February 2015
Label: Self Released

Stereolithic Riffalocalypse CD/DD track Listing

1.Spite Pit 04:50
2.Turdspeak 04:49
3.Crook 05:55
4.Black Cock of Armageddon 05:04
5.Stereolithic Riffalocalypse 07:26
6.Bog Slime 04:22
7.Wretch Salad 04:50
8.Stalebait 08:15

Bio

Shepherd is a Bangalore-based sludge/heavy rock band that's been making waves in the underground since its coming together in early 2011. Drawing Influence from the guitar driven sounds of early 90's hard rock (Soundgarden, The Melvins, Eyehategod) and 80's hardcore punk (Black Flag, Discharge), the band has built a reputation for itself as an ever-evolving and unpredictable heavy rock entity.

Shephered is

Michael |  (Bass/Vocals)
Namit |  (Guitar/Vocals)
Deepak |  (Drums/Vocals)

Review:

Shepherd have been releasing songs on BandCamp for the last few years now which made me a fan from the start. Their blend of Sludge, Stoner, and Doom Metal with a hint of Noise and Grunge is starting to win them a lot of fans within the scene. Shepherd hail all the way from India. There isn't too many Sludge/Stoner Metal bands coming from India. The only other one I know is Bevar Sea though Shepherd feel they have come from the legendary Seattle Music scene as their music has a distinctive grunge quality. That only tells the small part of the story on their debut album  'Stereolithic Riffalocalypse'. A complex sounding album that is big on ideas and riffs to match. Shepherd have fun on this record especially with the song titles that maybe a nod to The Melvins style of humour.

Opening track - Spite Pit - is a heavy bass thumping affair with plenty of fuzz and low mean grunge with enough power to shake your head in agreement. It's reminiscent of the early 90s Noise Rock/Sludge/Stoner Rock scene that was starting to appear. Shepherd may feel like a band out of time with their environment but no one has told these guys to leave the 20th Century behind and join the rest of us in the 21st Century. As Shepherd have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to impress you with.

The vocals are impressive throughout with lead vocalists - Namit and Deepak - laying down some passionate and grizzled vocals. Second track 'Turdspeak' is another fuzzy and heavy offering with Shepherd playing a mixture of slow and fast paced riffs that has a slight distorted effect. The Sludge Rock vibes are buried under loud volumes of fuzz as Shepherd play to their musical strengths.

Shepherd venture into Alice In Chains/Soundgarden territory on the 3rd track 'Crook' that ranks as one of the albums standout tracks. This is where Shepherd really start to grow in confidence as the band concentrate on the other parts of their music with the fuzz slowly disappearing into the background. Shepherd can certainly play those instruments, just wait for the impressive guitar solos towards the end of the song as Shepherd prove they have something special about them.

'Black Cock Of Armageddon' carries on the intense grunge/fuzz hybrid that slowly starts to infect your body like a nasty virus. People of a certain age will dig the 90s vibe more as Shepherd pay homage to their musical heroes whilst adding more modern elements to the mix. It's by now you should realise that Shepherd live in the land of fuzz as they only venture away from that world ever so often.

The 2nd half of the album sees Shepherd venturing into murkier realms as the music becomes ever darker and slightly creepier with traces of Doom Metal starting to take over. The brilliant title track is the next round of punishment you must survive from as the album turns very psychedelic at times. The final few tracks 'Bog Slime', 'Wretch Salad' and 'Stalebait' carries on the psychedelic doom nature with 'Stalebait' being another one of the albums standout tracks.  This is an example of Shepherd putting all their musical talents for one final epic take on all things Sludge/Stoner Metal.

I fully appreciate all the hard work and effort that Shepherd have put into this album as I know they've worked on it for a very long time indeed. Shepherd should be proud of what they have created here. As 'Stereolithic Riffalocalypse' is an excellent debut album. It's already starting to win praise within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community and it's not hard to see why. Thanks to bands such as Shepherd and Bevar Sea I hope we hear more Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal bands from India as I have no doubt the talent is there waiting to be discovered. Until then, my advice is to buy a copy of this album now. It's simply an unmissable album. Awesome stuff.

Thanks to Shepherd for the promo. Stereolithic Riffalocalypse is now available to buy on DD/CD via BandCamp now.

Words by Steve Howe

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