You know that expression ‘Appearances can be deceptive’, well that’s exactly what I thought when I first saw the cover art for the latest album from San Franciscan trio Disastroid who are Enver Koneya Vocals/Guitar, Travis Williams on Bass/Guitar and Braden McGraw on Drums.
I took one look at that font (curiously identical to Lord Dying’s on their album Mysterium Tremendum) on the Roger Dean inspired cover art and thought, ‘oh brother, another Progressive Sludge Metal band ala Mastodon, just what the world needs right now’. Dispel such misconceptions dear Sleeping Shaman readers because Disastroid are nothing like what I first imagined, as you shall soon see. Mortal Fools is the band’s latest release, the follow-up to 2017’s Screens and their third overall. The band are also the latest addition to the wonderful and ever-expanding Heavy Psych Sounds roster.
Mentioned on the band’s profile is their love for the Amphetamine Reptile back catalogue. For those like me who adore late 80’s/early to mid-90’s Noise Rock, that label was the place to go to, featuring bands such as Helmet, Unsane, The Cows, Melvins, Surgery etc and man does that sound possibly shine through here. Opening track 8hr Parking and Reset wouldn’t have sounded totally out of place on Helmet’s first 2 albums, it’s not entirely coincidental that they’ve supported them live. They’ve also supported the likes of Oxbow, Fu Manchu and Big Business and those influences leave their mark as well. Queens of the Stone Age also seem to have left a lasting impression, at least in the vocal department. Although I hasten to add not from Queen’s recent dismal output (especially Villains) instead everything up to and including Lullabies To Paralyze seem to have been on the band’s playlist.
There also appears to be a ‘Math-Rock’ influence, albeit from old-school bands such as Drive Like Jehu and No Means No. Math-Rock is just a music journos way of describing Indie Rock that’s inspired by the likes of King Crimson, Yes and their ilk. Thankfully Disastroid eschew the cool hipster vibe of the genre and have a far more organic, grounded and down to earth sound.
The rumbling bass throughout the record recalls Dave Curran of Unsane, second track Hopeless particularly highlights that band’s influence both in terms of depressive lyrical themes as well as oppressive sludgy Noise-Rock…
The rumbling bass throughout the record recalls Dave Curran of Unsane, second track Hopeless particularly highlights that band’s influence both in terms of depressive lyrical themes as well as oppressive sludgy Noise-Rock. Seeing as Unsane are one of my all-time favourite bands, believe me I’m not complaining. What is a definite positive is despite their influences, I by no means feel like I am listening to a tribute band. In fact, I find their own unique interpretation of Unsane‘s sound curiously touching.
I had read, prior to hearing the album that it was produced by Tim Green who has worked with the likes of Nation Of Ulysses and The Fucking Champs. This filled me with a slight degree of trepidation as I was never the biggest Nation Of Ulysses fan (or of a lot of the Dischord bands for that matter) and was unsure whether he would be able to accurately capture Disastroid’s brand of Noise-Rock influenced Sludge/Stoner Metal. I needn’t have feared because Tim does an excellent job which does full justice to the music and I would agree with the Heavy Psych Sounds promo which describes it as ‘their heaviest and most expansive-sounding album to date’.
This is an album that, due to its experimental nature, may take a couple of listens to fully engage with. But much like I’m finding with William Gibson’s Neuromancer (which I’m currently reading), it’s worth persevering with as the rewards are plentiful.
Scribed by: Reza Mills