Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Weeed - “Our Guru Brings us the Black Master Sabbath” (Album Review)


‘Be it in the album’s closing track or all the tracks preceding, Weeed has made a potential classic stoner rock album that draws from familiar elements of the genre and has enough experimentation to give them a sound of their own.’



Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 07/07/2015
Label: Illuminasty Records

“Our Guru Brings us the Black Master Sabbath” DD//LP track listing:

1). Bullfrog
2). Caravan Spliff
3). Dogma Dissolver
4). Enuma Elish
5). Nature’s Green Magic
6). Rainbow Amplifier Worship

Review:

Hold on; let me get my pothead on.

(crackle, crackle, crumble, crumble, spark, spark)

Ok, good to go.

If weed had a sound, “Our Guru Brings Us the Black Master Sabbath” would be it. This is the new album by Weeed, with Gabriel Seaver on bass, Mitch Fasnaugh on guitar, and John Goodhue on drums. The heady depth to Seaver’s tone is comfortable like the worn in spot of a thrift store sofa. Fasnaugh’s six string plays like a bowl’s harsher hits, the smoother drags from a joint, and a bong’s heavier blows. These two are backed by a style of drumming that captures the spirit of having the freedom to jam. Though sometimes ahead of the beat and sometimes behind, Goodhue is always on, keeping the music fluid and malleable but never at the sacrifice of the groove. What makes this work so well is that they stand far apart in mix, leaving space for Weeed smoke to get in all the nooks and crannies of the music.

Weeed’s band members dip into three pools of influence on their Illuminasty Records debut. These are the planet Earth, outer space, and spirituality, all of which take turns coming to the fore on this double LP. Album opener “Bullfrog” starts from the ground up with a solid rhythm courtesy of Seaver and Goodhue. The push is slow and heavy like the breathing in a hotboxed VW van. Fasnaugh’s guitar gets introduced gently with a solo that could easily fit on Colour Haze’s self-titled album. It fades into a sitar-effect that rides the groove that Goodhue taps out. Once the guitar returns, its presence is made known due in no small part to its harsher delivery.

“Caravan Spliff” follows with an acoustic lead and bubbly bounce that captures the ‘high’ conceived in the van. Though Weeed could have travelled on their own to the realm where gravity has no meaning, the band called in a pedal steel guitar, saxophone, and a throat singer to help lift this song even further out of reach. “Dogma Dissolver” – great song title aside – is next and serves as the album’s centrepiece. More shamanic like singing here, swirling from the one speaker to the other, so its time to bust out the headphones and close your eyes. The noodling guitars drive the eyelid kaleidoscopes but it’s when Seaver takes the lead that things really get going. This song is introspective and beckons the listener to get even deeper when it breaks out into the quarter beat hypnosis. As the fifteen minute run time progresses, there’s a trade-off between heavy riffing and droning before breaking into a primal breakdown led by Goodhue’s ability to capture the essence of a groove. By the time “Dogma Dissolver” comes to a crashing finale of cymbal smashing, feedback, and all around noise, the listener is left sprawling around on the floor wearing nothing but socks, unable to be satisfied with just how close they can get to the speakers. Needless to say, it might take a second or two before anyone gets up to put on disc two.

(crackle, crackle, crumble, crumble, spark, spark)

Ok, good to go.

The themes of planet Earth, outer space, and spirituality are cycled through once again on the last three tracks. “Enuma Elish” gets as close to a traditional song with a verse and a chorus as Weeed might ever get, shamelessly wearing its Black Sabbath influence on both its riff and vocal delivery to book end the song. The other four plus minutes of the song are spent amidst an instrumental jam that communicates with lead feet and gas pedals. 

“Nature’s Green Magic” is the album’s second extended cut that serves as a connecting flight from the listener’s mind to their body. It opens with an Alap – a free form introductory piece used in Indian classical music – that gradually grows into a drone before building into a guitar led journey that once again brings Colour Haze to mind. The tension in Goodhue’s gentle drumming is felt but is perfectly balanced; only giving way to the inevitable at the song’s transition into a classic stoner rock-out. The interplay between Seaver and Fasnaugh almost goes unnoticed here as they pass the main riff back and forth to each other without a defining moment. Perhaps it’s nature’s green magic that’s providing this seamless passing of the baton, but whatever it is, it makes for a good listen.   

And finally, “Rainbow Amplifier Worship” scuffs along with a hypnotic guitar line that, though stoic, is freed by Goodhue’s rolling rhythm. The primal screaming keeps things grounded but when the song's midsection is opened up with a jam, Fasnaugh’s fingers dance over his frets, lifting the listener to another dimension. There’s no let-up, no let-down, just a band of three guys who move up and away with the music they play. Be it in the album’s closing track or all the tracks preceding, Weeed has made a potential classic stoner rock album that draws from familiar elements of the genre and has enough experimentation to give them a sound of their own. Keep an eye on these guys. 

Words by: Victor van Ommen

“Our Guru Brings Us the Black Master Sabbath” is available here

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