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“Abdullah” (11 tracks. 67:43).
Fans of Solitude Aeturnus take note. The opening notes of this CD sound vaguely familiar, then that voice comes in. The combination of music and the voice of Jeff Shrilla hint at the opening of SA’s “Through the Darkest Hour” CD. But Abdullah is a little more commercial than Solitude Aeturnus, and their sound can be said to combine elements of commercial grunge and southern rock. Normally the grunge part would turn me off, but here it is the right combination. In terms of sound alone, Abdullah is a winner.

Abdullah is a very intriguing band for other reasons as well. The lyrics on this album are very thought provoking, very philosophical, and touch heavily upon metaphysical issues. Notable are the opening tune, “The Path to Enlightenment” and also the song “Proverbs of Hell”. Also notable is the artwork. The overall effect invites a lot of reflection from music to lyric to artwork. You are at once pleased aesthetically and also disturbed spiritually by it all. The end result is a very intriguing CD.


“The Last Adventures of Captain Dog” (13 tracks. 63:56)

Ohhh yeah baby! Here’s a band that knows how to groove. In terms of crunching guitars Blind Dog has that gritty Death n' Roll sound made famous by Entombed and others. But perhaps Doom n’ Roll is a better description as listeners will be instantly reminded of Soul Sacrifice/Ethereal Mirror era Cathedral. Black Sabbath also fits in prominently as an influence (“Blend”). Other songs like “Beyond My Reach” bring to mind bands like Raging Slab. And if you think that pigeon-hole’s them, then just listen to “When I’m Finally Gone” and you realize that Blind Dog are not so easily categorized. The combination of these diverse styles make for one ass kicking record! And having said this, Blind Dog also fit squarely within the stereotype of the better than average metal band we’ve come to expect from Sweden. What we have here, then, is a top-notch album complete with annotated notes for each song and an “essay”, if you will, describing the band’s development. Weigh yourself after hearing this one because it is bound to knock a few pounds off!


“I Am Vengeance” (18 tracks. 75:45).

It’s interesting that low budget slasher films and Metal appeals to the same kinds of people. Both have small but loyal followings. And here both overlap. Thanks to Meteorcity and some excellent stoner and doom bands, Richard R. Anasky has a soundtrack to his cult slasher movie, I Am Vengeance. Here songs based on themes from the movie are intertwined with some of the dialogue in the film, making it more than just a soundtrack, it is a concept record. You get the impression that even if you never view the film, you’ve gotten the story. Not every band on this disc are from Meteorcity, but they all represent some of the finest doom and stoner bands out there: Lowrider, Doomsday Gouvernment (feat. Dan Fondelius of Count Raven), Count Raven, Quill, Blood Farmers, Eternal Elysium, sHeavy, Las Cruces, etc. So as you can imagine, it has some great music. My favorite is Doomsday Gouvernment. So while Hollywood chooses the flavor-of-the-month bands to provide soundtracks for their multi-million dollar productions, Meteorcity and Richard R. Anasky have chosen something better!


“Ode to Io” (10 tracks. 52:31).

It seems abundantly clear to me now that the one good thing about grundge is that it seems to have awakened a sense of appreciation for noisy, gritty rock. The staleness of grunge is evident at how quickly it died out. It didn’t even last for an entire decade—THANKFULLY! Anyway, quite superior to grunge and much more timeless is stoner rock. While both gritty and grungy, it has a lot more class. Lowrider is Sweden’s answer to all that is rocky, funky, gritty, and down right rock n’ roll. Doubtless these guys are fans of old Sabbath and Hendrix, but I do detect a bit of Cathedral admiration. Track 3, “Convoy V” for instance has a real Cathedral type groove like you might hear on Carnival Bizarre or Caravan Beyond Redemption. Notice the song titles too: “Caravan”, “Flat Earth”, “Ode to Io”, and “Sun Devil” to name a few. Certainly these guys draw from those influences, but they don’t sound like a clone band. While stoner rock as a scene runs the risk of getting too monotonous, Lowrider manage to meld their influences into a sound which is familiar but new. Add to that an attractive layout on the CD and you have a winning combination.

The Mushroom River Band

“Music for the World Beyond” (12 tracks. 45:23).
Stone n’ Roll would be a great descriptive term for this band. They start out with a bang and just roll on through 12 cool tracks of aggressive funk flavored heavy rock. Wah pedals and flangers wail throughout with great riffs, rhythms, and solos. The vocalist, Spice (isn’t he in another band?), has a voice that sounds like it came right out of the 70s. Though the music is definitely Stoner Rock, Spice sings like one inspired by The Guess Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, or Aerosmith. The compositions of the songs too have that 70’s feel. What makes this band modern is that the recording process is up-to-date and the sonics are very clear. In short, the Mushroom River Band relive the glory days of Hard Rock with a genuine sound, not a manufactured one.


“Scene Killer” (13 tracks).

I guess the advantage of having a number of bands of a particular genre in a general location is the cross-pollination that occurs. Here I am referring to the various retro/stoner/riff bands in the state of New Jersey. On this CD you have a collaboration between members of Solace, The Atomic Bitchwax, Core, and Solarized in various combinations. Despite the mixing and matching of band mates, there is a uniformity of sound here and it sounds like a motorcycle ride through 1970’s rock land with a wah pedal for the accelerator and a distorted bass for a muffler. Imagine driving hard acid rock with traces of blues a la Stevie Ray Vaughn, feedback, and atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife, and perhaps a menacing hint of Cathedral’s trippier moments. If that sounds like your kind of music, then Scene Killer is a must have. You will not be disappointed.


“Driven” (12 tracks. 40:05).

It has taken me a little longer than usual to write this review. I think this is because on the one hand I really like it, but on the other hand I am struggling to find the right words to describe it. But I think I’ve come up with a way to describe it. Solarized sound like something of a cross between Foghat crossed with BTO crossed with Plastic Green Head era Trouble. They are a sort of driving rock band with a modern heavy edge, but an undeniable debt to the greats of the 1970s. They also sound a bit like Supershine, the collaboration between Doug Pinnick of King’s X and Bruce Franklin of Trouble. James Hogan’s voice sounds like it comes straight out of the 70’s and fits the guitar oriented music perfectly. The result is a fun and very enjoyable album that puts the “rock” in “rock n’ roll.” You certainly get the impression that the band truly enjoys their music. And you’ll enjoy it too. It is perfect for the car when you just want to roll down the window, let the wind blow your hair, and play some loud music. But watch your speed as the music might get you overly excited and force you to drive over the speed limit and get a ticket!

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