Mon 11th September 2017
Astro Lord begins... heavy, low and slow... this is doom. Think Sleep or Monolord... its elephantine bulk generating an increase in pressure that'll make your ears pop and your head spin. So far so typical doom fare, albeit a great introduction, but there's already a sense that this is a band not necessarily following the po faced seriousness of others.
Even dispelling my super sleuth detective skills that determined this from the band name or the clues hidden in the subtle artwork, the rest of the album is an eclectic free joyride across the bypasses and through the foothills that skirt the borders of doom, abetted at a guess with various opiates and their colourful symptoms. Second track Soul Train is a tenth the length of the opener, a minute long rock n roll garage blast to skew expectations into the unpredictable.
Reptiles is perhaps the most twisted, where a drunken slury and sleazy opening is joined by traddy doom vocals and a fine chuggy NWOBHM / thrash galloping guitar. It is all over the shop, for better and worse, I can't get my head around it. The final couple of tracks are the best, although most straight up doom, on the great The Pass and the closing Run With the Wolf, in isolation an occultish, gothic mysticism shrouding Electric Wizard-isms in a purple fuzz cloud, the cheesiness of the track title repeated vocal a laugh at odds with the turgid paced lead weighted riff.
What makes this, is that for all the pissing around Smoke Wizzzard play some real tunes, a contagious rocking out through the medium of doom, and a liberal dosage of hefty tone and riff. Missing a real stand out weirdo riff monster masterpiece to make this essential, we'll have to settle on consistently and eminently entertaining instead.