Wednesday 17 August 2016

REVIEW: Arctic - "Arctic" (EP)

By: Gerardo Pacheco

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 24/06/2016
Label: Outer Battery Records

This is a fine example of well executed rock, with an excellent blend of influences that don’t overstep anywhere to make the band sound like rip offs of any kind.

“Arctic” DD//LP track listing:

1.Over Smoked (08:36)
2.Cryptic Black Sun (04:07)
3.Burnt Ice (08:05)
4.Daewon (04:57)
5.Higher (03:23)

The Review:

I’m well aware that every time your intention is to read a review, your expectation should be that subject matter will trump personal opinions. You want to know what the album is about, prior to putting it on the device of your choosing for listening, or measuring your proper judgment of said album against a peer of the realm, namely a reviewer from whatever your source of information is. That said, I find myself perplexed with this band, more by the individuals that play the actual sounds they taped. This being a debut EP, I did some research on who these guys were, as I only had the EP to go by, which was given as a gift from a fellow Sleep fan. Digging beyond the cool as fuck cover art from Arik Roper (Sleep, Earth, Weedeater) I hit a wall when I found references for these people on skateboard related articles. These three dudes are pro-skaters. Pro-skater defined as sponsored athletes, backed by a brand named Volume 4 (sound familiar?). And of all places, they come from California. Oceanside, to be precise, dating back to 2011. So, by definition you would expect them to sound like they belong on a Tony Hawk game soundtrack, right? Prepare to have your archetypes broadened.

A blizzard of flangered white noise along with numbed cymbals gusts in to prepare us for what’s to come. Reverbed guitars that remind us of cavern echoes compliment the intro before allowing the fuzz pedals to take over and reveal the beginning of this 30 minute trek. “Over Smoked” then gives way for the initial riff to further develop, as well layered production from Jordan Andreen (Earthless, JOY) provides quite the lysergic experience over the course of its almost 9 minutes. And I say almost, as the band hits the brakes and shift gears mid-track to steer us towards stoner rock pastures. “Cryptic Black Sun” lures you in with 70s infused classic rock, cornering the listener to bathe its ears in slow burning acid, leaving us charred with psychedelic euphoria.

As we continue to dwell on the Arctic soundscape we can appreciate the tripping textures on “Burnt Ice”, which features heavily distorted vocals, a first on the record. The LSD-dipped melodies mangle riffs with blues roots and fry them in blown-out amplifier tar. A face-melting solo stretches well over half of the track, which serves as a conduit between chunky power chords juxtaposed against hallucinatory hooks. “Daewon” bridges over the drum fill from “Burnt Ice” and sways over to colourful psych-doom for a minute, or 3, as organized chaos brakes out to throttle your senses as the song progresses, throwing a spotlight on ‘Figgy’ who shreds solo after solo as if he was hitting a perfect line of park benches, sidewalks and the occasional obstacle. Much like a buffalo stampede “Higher” rolls in with the kind of bravado and muscle that was apparently the norm for well-respected bands back in the day. That does not last long, as the band surprises us with a turgid mass of crushing filth. Not much is left on this hike and as we soar to the peak of the proverbial mountain, a final sprint is made by the guys in an effort to conclude the ascent.

This is a fine example of well executed rock, with an excellent blend of influences that don’t overstep anywhere to make the band sound like rip offs of any kind. Definitely keep them on your radar, I would not be surprised if Heavy Psych Sounds Records picks them up and issues a split with Karma to Burn? One can only wish.

“Arctic” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook