26 Dec Psychoactive Soundscapes: The Trippiest Psychedelic Albums of 2013
What I’ve found is that by shifting models of reality interpretation just slightly from conceiving the world as being made of matter to one comprised from conscious experience, coherent macro concepts of conjoined narratives learning lessons throughout cycles of shifting lifetimes starts to take shape (which I talk about all the time on Facebook; friend me). When you start looking at things through the neo-Occult lens regarding the meaning of our existence as participants in a small cog of a much larger 5th dimensional art creation device, things begin to click into place on an even deeper level. Try it; it’s fun. What works about this model is the fact that art is getting more plentiful and expansive by the day. Whether or not that was the purpose, that’s what’s happening. The average person now spends their time lost in a greater collective imagination in a way that wasn’t even possible a decade ago. We’ve entered the era of the information addict. We’re turning ourselves increasingly inward and tying together disparate narratives without asking why we’re so unconsciously compelled to veer in that direction. I’m more helplessly entrenched than anyone, spending my time existent in my own celestial enclave of sonic enchantment.
Fact of the matter is, more people are taking psychedelic drugs at this point in history than ever before. The loosening of the pot laws is just going to ensure that trend continues to spike upward. Unsurprisingly, this has created a congruent upsurge in fantastically brain-altering tunage. I can’t even begin to keep up with it all, and I’m an obsessive music weirdo. For all intents and purposes, there are an infinite number of great albums being made every single year, but I’d say Joe Sixpack isn’t truly aware of that fact. I can’t imagine any of the records on this list sold a ton, which is sort of the problem and why you need geeks like me. Next time you want to trip out on the weekend rather than getting blitzed drunk, go pick up any of thesem and they’ll serve to lift you on high rather than binding you to the lower dimensions. Now, I almost apologize, because there really should be more trip-hop and electronic freak outs on here in general — that’s where drug music is heading and has been since I was a kid. But I’ve listened to a lot of the higher profile releases this year and most of it was decent, and little of it struck me as sufficiently psyche-warping. I’ve got to dig deeper next year. I will say that Seattle’s Debacle Records consistently brings the strange vibes (Editor’s Note: See the mixtape they made for us earlier this year) — and as if intentionally living up to our newly minted west coast weed city status, more great psychedelic albums came out of Seattle this year than ever, so this list is also a bit heavy on that because no one else is really talking about it. You’ve been warned.
15. Sandrider – Godhead (Good To Die Records)
Despite the insectile thousand-eyed-god-within album cover courtesy of bassist/tattoo artist extraordinaire Jesse Roberts and the title Godhead, this is actually the least overtly psychedelic record on this year’s list. Because of that, I was conflicted about putting it here, but it’s just so fucking good something would seem off if it didn’t make the cut. Which isn’t to say the preternatural cohesion with which these dudes effortlessly string together riffs isn’t enjoyable after a few bong rips, but they’re not trying to space you out. That’s not the intent to an album like this at all. The intent is to pulverize you. And pulverize you they do with amps the size of tanks, rapidly churning out expertly-crafted and highly technical stoner punk. It’s sort of impossible to listen to an album like this and not bang your head or thrash about the room in some capacity. Tired at work? Throw this on. Need to get a few extra reps into your workout? This is your disc. A ton of bands do re-hashed stoner metal or stoner rock. These guys churn out a unique blend of classic rock inspired stoner hardcore and it absolutely destroys. This shit could level mountains. On a hilarious and somewhat pre-cognitive note, when I first wrote about Sandrider, I compared their freakish chops with professional athletics and guess what? They were actually featured on a Monday Night Football segment demonstrating how Seahawks stadium gets even louder than a “grunge” band when packed to the gills with yelly sports robots (not judging; I watch sports like a crackhead — I just, you know, realize how stupid that is). Ahhh, the grunge legacy will linger over Seattle forever, but in all honesty, they probably do bear more resemblance to that no frills blue collar amped-up aesthetic than anything else going on around here at the moment. This album trumps their ingenious instant classic debut, which isn’t something I thought was possible, in all honesty. Total fucking godhead indeed.
14. White Hills – So You Are, So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey Records)
Despite being pleasantly pummeled into submission by White Hills’ psych rock precision live on several occasions, I can’t say that I ever truly connected with their recorded output until earlier this year. Their records perplexed me, because they’ll lay down a fairly straightforward catchy stoner jam, and then the next track is like, 15 minutes of building ambience before they drive off into Rockville (population: you) anew. Then out of nowhere, I’m listening to last year’s Frying on this Rock, and it hits me: wait, the fact that this album starts with a more traditional tune and is then followed by the same riff repeating for 12 minutes while spaced out samples subtly twist your perception to shreds is exactly what’s awesome about it. There was a sudden understanding, and because of that I picked up this disc the first week it dropped (the 5th album of theirs I now own). Good idea, as it may be their most focused work thus far. Rather than going 4 minutes on and then 10 plus into more deranged terrain, it oscillates at more regular intervals, and when it does, there’s white noise electronic squelching further fucking you up, which is new from their camp. This band tours endlessly and still manages to bang out a new album almost every single year. Whereas their song remains relatively the same as it worms its way through various trippy configurations, it also rules and keeps getting better. I’ll pretty much keep listening until the wheels finally fall off the machine, and I’m quite sure that ain’t happening any time soon.
13. Bosnian Rainbows – Bosnian Rainbows (Sargent House)
As huge a fan as I was of The Mars Volta, I’m not remotely disappointed they broke up, mainly because they put out so much goddamn material when they were together. Why not branch out creatively? I’m sure soon enough there’ll be a 20th anniversary Deloused in the Comatorium reunion tour which will pay for their retirements. And whereas we’ll have to wait to see what Cedric comes up with in his Zavalas project (I’m really curious actually), O. Rod’s transformation is predictably already here, and a seamless one. Bosnian Rainbows retains all the trippiness of the Volta but takes it in calculatedly different and more restrained directions. It’s a truly unique sort of high. Everything is confined to more pop songwriting structures than it ever was, even on TMV’s prog-resistant later works — but despite that, it’s still weird as fuck. You sort of get lost listening to all the amped up electronic shit reverberating around the hooks that you sometimes forget the hooks are happening in the first place, and they’re cool hooks. Teri Gender Bender ensures the vocals don’t retain any brand loyalty to the Volta oeuvre, so it’s a different beast altogether, and a magnificently odd one at that. Fine work as usual from a guy who’s done more to popularize psychedelic music than anyone in the last decade or so and rarely gets credit for it. He’s made a billion guitar records and his more subdued styles here sound distinctly different than most of what I’ve heard on any of them which is hard to pull off. Stagnation is death, and fear is the mind killer. Mad respect, sir.
12. The Night Beats – Sonic Bloom (The Reverberation Appreciation Society / Burger Records)
One of the odd effects of psych rock becoming more fashionable these days is that a lot of the bands springing up sort of downplay the psych and focus more on sounding like they’re from the ‘60s, which is when Western psychedelic culture was more overtly mainstream and LSD was legal. I guess the millennials picked up on that as jangly 13th Floor Elevators re-hash acts started becoming more commonplace nationwide, but Seattle’s (although I don’t think they’re here much anymore) The Night Beats were always on top of that heap. These kids just have swagger, although admittedly, I think their first disc sort of made the rookie mistake a lot of the peers fell into by skimping on the freakouts. Fortunately, on their sophomore full-length, they rectify that with extended breakdowns into hazy guitar noise and cut-up incantations interspersed with their happy tunes about sex and taking too much acid. It probably also helps that I caught them in the front row at Hypnotikon (a Seattle psychedelic music festival) the only time I took psilocybin this year. They killed it, bringing even more extended guitar FX theatrics than they do on record. The visuals by Aubrey Nehring were mind-shattering. It took me a whole 4 days to recover properly, which has never happened before when venturing into ‘shroom land. No joke. Also, thanks to the wonders of technology I can apparently now take pictures while I’m quietly tripping balls. Who knew?
11. Lesbian – Forestelevision
The best way I can describe Lesbian’s music would be “psilocybin cult metal”. You’ve just got to respect how committed they are to the worship of ‘shroomed out transcendence. They play in another noise rock improv group called Fungal Abyss (hit or miss, if you ask me) and their last megalithic headfuck of an album was called Stratospheria Cubensis (genius). It’s sad how psychedelics are often associated with laziness and malaise because that’s how the drug war has slandered them; because of that disinformation, people tend to forget ethneogen states have also been linked to decidedly non-lazy things like the creation of the internet and the discovery of DNA. Fuck, when I take mushrooms I tap into this insectile hive mind of connective telepathy, and I smoke pot when I work out. Which is my way of saying that I’d rather listen to Lesbian’s cartoonishly intricate jams than their less structured side project when I’m high, but to each his own. This album is comprised of one monster 44-minute cut that it would seem like they’d have to be telepathically locked into each other’s minds to pull off. I’m not going to lie; Lesbian are an acquired taste that probably won’t make sense to most upon initial listen, but rewards repeated exploration in droves. They are maybe the one dark/growly metal band that I follow with this level of devotion, as the cookie monster vocals are just a garnish to the music and not remotely the focus. As if mimicking psychedelic states, there’s more information going down here than anyone has the ability to process in a hundred sittings, which is the sort of thing I personally find incredibly addictive. I just have to get to the bottom of it all. The disc starts off with 8 or so minutes of prototypical doom and then just lifts off into ridiculous innerspace prog-metal theatrics for the next half-hour-plus. It’s almost like the beginning is climbing the first hill on a rollercoaster, and then they drop you at the top of the highest peak and just let you speed through the twists, turns, and loopty loops with a shit-eating adrenaline grin on your face. Extra points go to the 10-minute tongue-in-cheek prototypical stoner metal jam, which rounds out the disc with hilarious guest vocals about finding the answers to questions by unlocking the power of madness or something to that effect. It’s their way of winking at the listener and pointing out: yeah, we sound all serious for the most part, but trust us; we’re too baked to actually give two fucks.
10. Master Musicians of Bukkake – Far West (Important Records)
The follow-up to their brilliant instrumental Totem trilogy finds MMOB drawing from more traditional Western rock influences rather than mining the opium den world music stew of their previous three. It’s a mellow headfuck that implements vocals and more traditional song structures, but those structures just hint at normalcy and then quickly dissipate into more expansive meditations, which is a cool trick. Oh hey, there might be a hook here to latch onto. Nope, it just keeps building on the weird instead. The first track sounds like a pulsating Pink Floyd, replete with sparse rhythmic acoustic guitar strums — but just when you almost feel guilty about the shameless imitation, it proceeds to fly off in completely different directions. What’s cool about this collective is that no matter what distant influences they’re mining at the moment, the vibe remains the same. It all sounds eerie and mystical. That’s the common thread. You sort of wonder if brainchild producer Randall Dunn has a mysticism button in his studio and says things like, “Errrr, that’s just not ominous sounding enough; needs to evoke more awe” during mix-down. Maybe he has an ominous patch he’s programmed that he trots out on special occasions. I have zero idea, but he also produced two other albums on this list, and I’ve strangely never met the dude despite running in some of the same circles. You know what’s odd? In my world, this is perfect sex music. I smoke a lot of pot, throw this on, and bang my beautiful wife while internally feeling like that scene from Videodrome where James Woods goes all out-of-body and into psychic shrine insanity while nailing Debbie Harry. Strange vibes. They should put that right on the label: Goes Great with Sex Magick!
9. Eight Bells – The Captain’s Daughter (Seventh Rule Recordings)
Was that really three straight Seattle albums? Yeah, it’s getting a little absurd, so I’m going to now kick it to other regions like, errrr, Portland. What can I say? We have really strong drugs in this part of the country. Eight Bells is guitar goddess Melynda Jackson re-booting her long-standing Portland-via-the-Bay-Area psych rock legends Subarachnoid Space after that act disintegrated. On their final and brilliant swan song album (called Eight Bells, conveniently), she was the only remaining member so this transmutation isn’t that much of a stretch from that camp’s sonic terrain. I’m just damn glad she put in the effort, as this shit kills. Did you notice I said guitar goddess? Yeah, there aren’t many of those. As a matter of fact, it was me thinking about the dude-centric nature of guitar-playing that lead me to setting up this interview with her. Turns out, she doesn’t have any female guitar influences either, so now I don’t feel so bad. Fortunately for me though, she’s one of my bigger ones. Her style is psych-sludge gold as she demonstrates (much like Adam Jones did back in the day) that you can accomplish just as much with two notes run through a sufficient amount of wah and delay as you can with thousand note lightspeed wanking. What I love about her style, though, truly has to do with the Sonic Youth-y noise rock influence. Not too many bands have the balls to take an up-tempo rocker and just drop it into throbbing feedback squalls for extended periods and then pull it all back together again after the audience’s minds are sufficiently drone-fried. It’s bound to confuse people who aren’t stoned, and I imagine it absolutely does due to some of the ridiculously juvenile negative reviews I read for this disc. This record is for the heads. Oh, and none of this would work if her backing band weren’t amazingly capable and didn’t understand exactly what she was going for. Tune in, weird out, rock on.
8. The Haxan Cloak – Excavation (Tri Angle Records)
I think I mentioned in the lead up to this that there should probably be way more otherworldly electronic stuff on here, but I haven’t made a point of sorting the wheat from the chaff on the front properly for quite a while, unfortunately. I started playing guitar when I was 13, and because of that I’m guess I’m just more of a rock guy when you get down to it (we’ll just ignore the fact that I also started screwing around with samplers and drums machines when I was 19). As much as I’m not an electronica (do people still use that word?) geek, I do read reviews and check out albums, and most of the time I find the highly touted releases to be decidedly okay. My gripe can usually be summed up in 3 words: NOT PSYCHEDELIC ENOUGH. The Haxan Cloak are the one overly-hyped act I had time for this year that I can confirm actually lives up to the insane amount of buzz that’s been building on the internets. I sort of thought it still wasn’t quite consciousness-warping enough to make this list, but repeated listens changed my mind on that front. There are several ways to bend internal time space perception with sound. The most obvious involves clusterfucking the listener’s palette with so much strangeness that their experience gets forcefully pushed heavenward, but calculated minimalism can also be rather effective. When your mind gets used to subtle repeating patterns, and then those patterns shift or add a new more maximalist component, it really screws with your head, which is how The Haxan Cloak sink their teeth into you. There’s this plodding sub-bass sound that’s pretty much a constant throughout, but every now and again a few extra layers get added for a spell, and out of nowhere, you feel like you’re floating in space. It’s roughly the same territory Demdike Stare have been exploring, and you should absolutely have a few albums by them as well. Also, this needs to be on here due to the fact that it might be the best Occult ritual music I’ve heard all year, outside of Far West. The ominous wonder vibe is perfect for that sort of intentional head-tripping. What I find interesting about The Haxan Cloak is that for all the accusations of being bleak or dark, it just sounds awesome to me, and I generally hate things like horror movies and pointless violence in entertainment. I’m not at all sure what it says about me that this gets me all focused and smiley when cookie-cutter psy trance house beats make me want to slit my wrists.
7. Mammatus – Heady Mental (Spiritual Pajamas)
It’s been five long years since the stoner rock classic The Coast Explodes blew minds back in 2007, and part of why the follow-up took so long apparently had something to do with a few of the band members converting to Christianity. That’s normally a bad sign, but amazingly, Heady Mental manages to improve upon everything that was great about that landmark west coast psych rock tour de force 5 years ago. The most impressive thing about Heady Mental is its concision. With three tracks and a total running time of just over 30 minutes, nothing here is out of place at all, and it doesn’t feel like it should have gone any longer, either. The biggest stylistic change on this in comparison to their past work is honestly just that they kept practicing over the years and continued to hone their chops. Also, the way the spacey keys and guitars play in unison, then take off in different directions before converging back together again at times is deliciously brilliant and new. Moreover, this is just good vibe city, despite the strangely off-putting album art. The sounds instantly make you think about firing up joints on the sunny beaches and beautiful mountain vistas of their Nor-Cal home turf. There are a billion stoner metal bands that just re-hash the same Sabbath and Zeppelin riffs ad nauseam, but these brothers in Christ keep everything firmly planted in major key echo-y prog fare. This disc’s peak is the final 16-minute-plus epic “Brainbow/Braintrain”, which is worth the price of admission on its own and might be the most satisfying sonic drug trip I’ve taken all year. It’s like you just strap yourself in, put on your space helmet, set the controls for the heart of the fun, and let them elevate you heavenward. The track actually manages to pull off a protracted slow-motion Van Halen-esque guitar-tapping sequence — which eventually fades into trippy ambience for a spell, as the sound of a train getting started segues into the song’s next more rocking coda. It’s genius, and the chugging rails samples are so odd they actually got my dog to stare at the stereo for several minutes, completely perplexed one day.
Good times, and here’s a picture of my dog for no good reason other than the fact that he’s adorable. You’re welcome.
6. Rose Windows — The Sun Dogs (Sub Pop Records)
The most obvious knock on psychedelic music in general is that there’s a lot of guitar noodling and generalized head fuckery, but often a decided lack of basic songwriting chops, which is why Rose Windows are such a stand out act in the genre. I’d caught them repeatedly in a live setting around town and was too blinded by vocalist Rabia Qazi’s jaw-dropping pipes to really notice the compositional cohesion as a whole or flesh out what the fuck she was singing about entirely. A lot of times, when a long-awaited album finally drops, it can be a bad thing, but fortunately, Rose Window’s music is channeled directly from the terminally-baked mind of guitarist Chris Cheveyo, and that dude gets pretty out there. The most obvious touchstone for RW would be one of my favorite bands, Black Mountain. The way they both combine seventies stoner metal riff rock tracks with melodic psych folk tracks right next to each other on the same album is certainly similar, but despite, that I can’t actually say the bands sound that much alike. Anywho, I could go on and on about it, but I did a fairly extensive interview with him last summer and you’d probably be better served by just reading that.
5. Monster Magnet — The Last Patrol (Napalm Records)
The return of Monster Magnet is the feel good story of the year as far as I’m concerned. Now, it’s come to my attention that a lot of younger heads don’t know who these guys are, so if that’s the case, go buy Dopes to Infinity and Spine of God right now. Just do it. Those are two of the greatest psychedelic rock albums of any period, hands down, end of story. Back in the ‘90s when downer heroin rock was blowing up the spot, these dudes were taking beautiful freaks to the edge of Mars and talking to planets with the master cylinder. Of course, that was sort of the problem. Dave Wyndorf gets a proper budget to hone his masterwork and churns out an absolute classic in Dopes to Infinity, but it didn’t sell to expectations. So he basically had to abandon the uber-trippy production weirdness to extend his career and appeal to a wider audience. This worked for exactly one album, as I still think Power Trip‘s solid as much of a step back as it was from Dopes from a purely artistic standpoint. The point is, it made him a bunch of money, and so on the follow-ups, I think he felt compelled to try to give the people what he thought they wanted.
Whatever the story, 2000’s God Says No was half great and half sort of cringe-inducing at times. I know the true MM heads are going to hate me for saying this but I bought 2004’s Monolithic Baby and ended up literally deleting it from my iTunes. I just don’t know where they were going with that full on cock rock shit. Monster Magnet were good for two reasons; one because Dave’s a hilariously brilliant songwriter, and two because of his ingenious ‘90s update on Hawkwind-inspired sonic hive mind fuckery. You take away one of those elements, and it just doesn’t add up. He put out another few discs that I wanted to buy but couldn’t bring myself to based on the reviews, which said it was more of the same. Then out of nowhere, there’s this. A fine return to classic cosmic bliss form. Oh, how the circle of life unfolds. Guy’s forced to abandon his psychedelic roots to make a buck, gets hooked on horrible drugs and is in time forced to return spaceward for the exact same reason. Turns out, everybody just wanted him to wave his trippy LSD flag in the first place. Sort of like the universe bitch slapped him, which is what tends to happen as cycles of time play out their intricate psycho-drama on the human stage. You’re the space lord motherfucker; act like it. Psychedelic drugs aren’t going away, and no one else can belt out lyrics like, “Cause it’s a cosmic joke (oke-oke-oke-oke)/ Those suckers never knew” or “Fry my burned out head in the acid bath/ Ffuck me ‘til I’m dead and I can’t get back” and actually pull it off. We missed you, Dave. Good to have you back on the team.
4. Lumerians – The High Frontier (Partisan Records)
As much as I loved this band’s first full-length Transmalinnia and was eagerly awaiting this new one, I didn’t get it at all at first, which is odd. It’s the exact same band playing the exact same sort of music, and yet it’s completely different and they seemingly did this just by tweaking the production techniques and instrumentation slightly. Maybe they built a new studio or something. I don’t know — but just about when I was going to write this off as a colossal disappointment, I threw it on one more time and had almost an out-of-body trance epiphany. I was playing video basketball and just stopped while I floated through the room for a few tunes. Couldn’t keep my focus on the game after that and soon I couldn’t get it out of the stereo for weeks. You know what’s great about Lumerians? I never shut the fuck up, and I have zero idea how to explain this stuff to you. It’s like trippy rock with guitars and keyboards, which is sort of dancey at times, with surprisingly cool understated vocals. That’s my way of saying they’re either onto something not a lot of other people are doing, or they’re just riding a bunch of influences I’m not remotely familiar with. Either way, bang up job with all that. I’m at a loss for once.
(Editor’s Note: See our interview with Lumerians about the exploration of internal and external universes for many more words on the matter.)
3. Killer Mike & El-P – Run the Jewels (Fool’s Gold Records)
I’ve been saying this for years, but the problem with hip-hop for me is that for the last decade, El-P’s made everyone else look like they’re in freaking kindergarten by being a gajillion years ahead of his time. Other than Shabazz Palaces, there isn’t much I’ve scoped from the land of braggadocio that doesn’t strike me as hella corny by comparison — not that I’m an expert by any means. Fuck bling rap. I know, I know. I’ve got to dig deeper for the real trip-hop. At least I like things like Aesop Rock and Killer Mike. Damn, I only know of those people because of El-P. Well, there’s like Dalek, and Thee Satisfaction. Yeah, I suck. Please recommend things. The more trip hop-y and less hip-hop-y the better. You know how I roll.
Well, anyway, fortunately for me, El-P keeps bringing the genius at increasing intervals. I’m mean, right after putting out both their solo joints which he produced last year, he drops this. Killer Mike and El-P. What the fuck else do you want in life? Granted, this is Grand Theft Auto-style masculine crime fantasy shit but it’s also beyond hilarious, brilliant, and just plain wrong, much like the game. Moreover, there’s a difference between bling rap reality star heiress dating halfwits and guys who say things like, “You can only take the energy you have going back to the realm where the home of your lord is, whoever, whatever that lord is couldn’t give a fuck if you ever made fortunes – fuck anyone ever trying to run that punk shit, send them to the flames where the orcs live.”
There are more references to psilocybin here than I’ve ever heard on a rap album, and they even get into some shamanic sex magick fantasies. No shit. Extra points are also rewarded for maybe one of the greatest concert experiences of my life when I saw them at the Capitol Hill Block Party last summer. Killer Mike played Reagan and led the crowd in a ritualistic chant of, “I’m glad Reagan’s dead!”, which he drags on for so long it gets legitimately awkward, and eventually I’m one of like five people in a crowd of thousands yelling with him. Gave me chills. Motherfuck Dick Cheney too! Seriously.
2. Midday Veil – The Current (Translinguistic Other)
Yet another album that threw me for a complete loop at first. When you’re a band like Midday Veil, with one of the most talented singers in the multiverse, you’d sort of expect that to become even more of the focus of the music than it was on their classic Eyes All Around — but rather than taking that obvious route, they’ve veer in the exact inverse direction. What’s so instantly strange about The Current is the way it’s structured. There’s one catchy, vocally-melodic song followed by a trance instrumental, and then poof: 20-some-odd-minutes of blessed-out sacred ambience which bends into a Middle Eastern seeker dirge number, and then an absolute blow-out rocker finale. There are essentially only 3 real songs on the record and one hook… at the end. For a second, I thought they’d gone off the deep end with the mushrooms, but of course, it wouldn’t be number 2 here if I didn’t eventually realize they had gone off the deep end with the mushrooms, which is exactly why this rules. The point is to affect consciousness and help the listener achieve spiritual communion with the inner divine. Occult concepts unfold in the lyrics, as “Remember Child” transitions to “Without and Within” — and speaking of the Occult, they get bonus gold stars for making the best witchcraft-themed music video of the year for the album’s rad ass final act. Viv and I interviewed them about that actually, and it was good. Click; watch; do this in remembrance of weed.
1. Subrosa — More Constant Than the Gods (Profound Lore Records)
Early on, I started referring to 2013 as the Year of the Witch in my online magick journals, which was a concept suggested to me by white witch extraordinaire Pam Grossman. She actually wrote a cool blog about it which ended up getting featured on the Huffington Post, of all places. Crazy. With that in mind, this is the obvious pick for the number one album in the Year of the Witch. Shit is fierce. It’s like the sonic equivalent to getting straight-up hexed. Rebecca Vernon’s vocals cut through the soul-draining nonsense of our consumerist insanity like a freshly sharpened sword through warm butter (or entrails, if you want to get all gory). Hey asshats at the oil companies. She can see through you. Warmongering profit gougers on Wall Street? You think you’re going to get away with this bullshit? Nice try. You’re going to die. You can’t run from that with your spreadsheets and your nonsense technological singularity, assholes.
Well, anyway, I can’t believe stoner and doom metal has proliferated out of control like it has these days. I love that sort of thing, but even I got to the point where I was like, enough already. You need to do something new with these concepts. Which is why Subrosa is so freaking excellent. They take elements of doom and add melody, witchy songwriting chops, and most unusually, two different electric violins run through a crap ton of effects pedals. So unique. The thick guitars hold down the rhythm while the strings take on the constant intertwined trippy lead arrangements. Never heard anything like it, and the production is off the fucking charts. How good is it? Take Neurosis at their best and make it better. No shit. Overmind godhead space lord madness in heaven kind of vibes. Might be a bit bleak for a number one pick, but knowing they’re writing it smack dab in the heart of robot Mormon country makes chants like, “Slavery to a cruel idol!” connect with that much more vitriolic potency. Places like SLC are always where the best subversive music comes from. Pissed off and tripped out aren’t usually an easy thing to pull off in tandem, but if you take psychedelic drugs and aren’t just a bit seething beneath the surface in regards to the spiritual ignorance of humanity, maybe you need to take more. Out.