posted on 11/2010 By:
The last musical encounter I had with Dave Sherman was during his stint as bassist and occasional vocalist in Spirit Caravan, a band whose demise I still lament. The name Earthride has probably skittered across my consciousness at some point in the past ten years, but Sherman’s involvement never really registered, and I never gave the Earthride a listen until being presented with the opportunity to review the band’s third record, Something Wicked. Sherman has always struck me as a doom metal lifer, so I was not the least bit surprised to find that Earthride is very much a doom band in the fine Maryland tradition.
Spirit Caravan’s take on doom was somewhat progressive at times, but Earthride’s bare bones style is more akin to another Wino-fronted band: Saint Vitus. The songs on Something Wicked are constructed of simple riffs and uncluttered rhythms. But, where Vitus’s sound was one of bleak desperation, Earthride’s music has a laid-back Southern comfort to it. Rather than bludgeon the listener, Earthride primarily opts for slow grooves, letting guitarist Kyle Van Steinburg’s fat fuzzy tone chew up most of the scenery.
Earthride’s simple laid-back style puts the burden on Sherman to deliver the fireworks. While Dave’s voice is a force of nature – it's so rough and ragged that I suspect the obstetrician handed newborn Dave a pack of Winstons and a bottle of Old Granddad shortly after smacking his ass – Sherman contributes more character than actual melody to the proceedings. The vocal limitations combined with the rudimentary riffing leaves many of the songs lacking a real hook.
Something Wicked’s high points are mostly found in tracks wherein the band decides to get off the couch and kick a little ass. The title track steamrolls along on a menacing, yet slothful riff made all the more effective by the respite granted by the galloping mid-section. “Grip the Wheel” is another higher energy track with a driving pulse that matches its driving theme. Other notable moments from the album include a stinging, Hendrix-esque solo on “Watch the Children Play” and guest vocals from Wino on the otherwise pedestrian “Supernatural Illusion”.
Something Wicked’s heavy, hazy sound is as comfortable my ears as my favorite pair of jeans is to my ass, but the album presents no real danger to my neck. The album may induce a little head nodding and toe-tapping, but anything that would incite full-on head-banging fury is absent; Earthride just does not hit that hard. I view Something Wicked as pleasant background music, but little more.
Register to post comments.