To say Ecstatic Vision have made an impact on the worldwide stoner, doom, and heavy psych scene the last decade would be an understatement. The Philadelphia outfit led by guitarist, vocalist, and visionary Doug Sabolick has been blowing minds since their debut, Sonic Praise, released on Relapse Records back in 2013. The bands high-energy, late-60s-Detroit rock -meets-Hawkwind, grimy, rock & roll freakouts have been warmly welcomed into many music collections.
Ecstatic Vison has artfully melded rock & roll urgency, with heavy psych-space-exploration over the course of three full-lengths, and one covers EP, exuding creativity, and pushing and evolving their sound constantly along the way. And though they are proffering in sounds that are decades old, they manage to do so in such a fresh, unique way that they instantly stand out among the hordes of bands worldwide recycling the same Sabbath riffs. In fact, while Ecstatic Vison have always dropped some serious riffage, I see them coming from more of a dangerous, garage rock Funhouse-eraTheStooges angle, than a riff-worshiping Sabbath one. Add in secret weapon Kevin Nickles saxophone freakouts and organ trips, and we have some serious originality flowing in a genre not always known for it.
It is with this backdrop that Ecstatic Vison release their anticipated, fourth full-length, and second (third if one counts the Under The Influence EP) for Heavy Psych Sounds, the much-anticipated Elusive Mojo. And, holy shit, this thing is a rock & roll rocket ship to Mars from the second instrumental opener March Of The Troglodytes blasts out of the speakers. Sabolick’s hypnotic riff, and Nickles sax flourishes instantly reminding me of Funhouse. However, this is just an intro as March Of The Troglodytes flows right into the title track, Elusive Mojo, without skipping a beat. The sound has Detroit ‘70 written all over it, but this isn’t just The Stooges-rip off. Sabolick‘s vocal energy, and attitude are all his own, and there is enough psych-affects-trips on here, to separate Ecstatic Vison, to say nothing bassist Michael Field Connor killer basslines throughout, anchoring the song so Sabolick can lose his shit on the guitar.
All this is just a warmup it seems, as the absolutely killer, driving, d-beat from drummer Ricky Culp introduces the rock & roll madness that is Times Up. This song is a grimy, dirty, psychedelic, rock & roll monster. Sabolick‘s vocals and riff just ooze with attitude. He knows exactly when to make use of his extensive effects to accentuate his riffs. And when Nickles makes his presence felt with the sax, it’s game over. I’d challenge you to find a better, dirtier, heavy psych, rock song this year.
Start-to-finish Elusive Mojo drips with rock & roll attitude, and early 70s grime…
Ecstatic Vison don’t let up one iota with The Kenzo Shake as Sabolick completely goes off both with his riffs and his effects-drenched shreddery. The rhythm served up by Culp and Field Connor is driving, grooving, propelling the song, allowing Sabolick to blast to the cosmos. Thing is, I don’t characterize Ecstatic Vision’s approach as mere as ‘heavy psych’ per se, as there’s just too much rock & roll attitude all over the place.
However, Ecstatic Vision dip into their psych side a bit more on the trippy Venom. A slow-burn that builds itself into a rock & roll freakout, featuring plenty of wah-pedal, histrionics from Sabolick. The band ride this groove taking Venom to its conclusion, giving way, as the more introspective, trippy, psych-vibes, of the aptly-named The Comedown come into the listener’s consciousness. Sounding exactly like the sonic equivalent of an early-morning, LSD-comedown, it is sequenced perfectly, as lord knows, after the psychedelic, rock & roll assault of three-quarters of Elusive Mojo, we need a bit of a comedown.
Nonetheless, closer Deathwish 1970 pays a pretty obvious homage to The Stooges aforementioned classic Funhouse, complete with very similar riffs and tempo to The Stooges classic 1970 to say nothing of Nickles sax freakouts across the top. And, with that, Elusive Mojo comes to its close.
This is a smoking, psychedelic rock & roll, album. Start-to-finish Elusive Mojo drips with rock & roll attitude, and early 70s grime. Ecstatic Vision, with Elusive Mojo, have perfected a melding of the dirty rock & roll of The Stooges Funhouse with early, Spine of God–era heavy-psychedelic Monster Magnet. Maybe it’s the close proximity, but Sabolick has a good amount of Dave Wyndorf’s legendary east coast swagger to him as well.
Ecstatic Vision, with Elusive Mojo, have solidified their status at the vanguard of the US heavy psyche scene.
Scribed by: Martin Williams