Release DetailsLABEL Nocturnal Records
RELEASED ON 12/1/2004
Powtin' On The Outside, Pawty On The Inside
posted on 5/2005 By:
Whoa, this isn’t what I was expecting at all. I’ve been a fan of these dudes for some time now, but I never remembered them being this heavy, this dynamic or this bludgeoning. What I DO remember is an obscenely infectious, riff-driven monstrosity of the Fu Manchu/Nebula variety, one which fell firmly on the more frivolous, lighthearted end of the stoner rock spectrum. That nonchalant leafhound has virtually vanished here, shedding its carefree demeanor for something altogether more menacing and malicious, casting its Cali-stoner rags aside for a more textural sound weaving High On Fire’s hack 'n slash stampede with meandering West Coast desert rock. This is an approach that doesn’t always make for cohesive, convincing results, but when it DOES come together, Suplecs do a good job of affirming just why they are one of the most highly regarded outfits in the heavy rock underground.
The parallel between Matt Pike’s outrageously loud troupe and this power trio is far from subtle- there is a marauding, bulldozer density to some of the material on offer here, though as one may expect, the results are not quite as monstrously primitive or brilliantly messy as High On Fire. Instead, one often gets the impression that Suplecs are filtering ideas expressed on previous efforts through a coarser, fiercer approach. In certain senses, one could view the progression Suplecs has made as following a path similar to a band like Halfway To Gone, whose latest self-titled record on Small Stone imbued a more balls-to-the-wall approach juxtaposed with a host of soulful hooks and grooves that affirmed the band as a vehemently individual entity in a field saturated with Southern rock pretenders. There’s certainly a lot of originality in this offering and things are far from being as linear and straightforwardly rawk n’roll as their previous efforts- the instrumental section that closes out “Tsunami” swells to Blessed Black Wings proportions, “10 To Life” begins with a lethargic whiskey-soaked Allman Brothers crawl before EXPLODING into a piledriver of a riff, complete with apocalyptic double bass and lumbering bass.
What is interesting about Suplecs is their ambition- they are unafraid of embracing more progressive, demanding structures than many of their more predictable kin. Of course, the fact that they insist on making their compositions more challenging than most doesn’t always work to their advantage- “Gotta Pain” is a pretty brilliant 6 minute track, beginning in quasi-QOTSA fashion, peppering driving, pulsating, insistent riffage and uptempo rhythms with soulful crooning before breaking into a MONUMENTAL sludgy middle section with rambling Geezer Butler bass and N.OL.A. sultriness. “Cities of the Dead” doesn’t work quite as well, building upon a premise of meandering lead guitar and a rippling, repetitious bassline that takes forever to kick into high gear. The lazy, subdued ambient effect of this track is decidedly different from the urgency and plain KICK OUT THE JAMS-ness of the rest of the record, and is a bit of an unwelcome anomaly as far as this reviewer is concerned, particularly since the playing on the track is so pedestrian. When the track DOES get going, though, FUCK! Groove nirvana for everyone and their mothers!
It might interest some stoner rock enthusiasts that rock deity (in my universe, at least) Pepper Keenan produced this effort. To Mr Keenan’s credit, the production here is superb- the drums are rich and mic’d perfectly, the bass drum thudding and reverberating with beastly menace, the guitars warm and approachable, the bass nice and loud in the mix. There is an intimate honesty to the mix here, and unlike High On Fire, everything sounds rather crisp and clean. No obnoxiously overdriven walls of sound here for the most part, lending a lot of character and soul to the dynamic nature of the work. This record doesn’t always work, but it truly showcases a much more mature Suplecs, a band that is clearly poised for greater things in the coming future.
Register to post comments.