Has anyone noticed that over the last year or so there has been a definite whiff of Seattle about quite a few of the releases that have made their way into our ear canals? For the longest time the accepted wisdom was that grunge killed metal…and not just the nasty hair-metal that we still all agree to hate…it killed off anything that was seen within 50 yards of a denim battle-vest!
Of course, those of us who lived through the early 90s and existed exclusively in checked shirts and converse sneakers know that it wasn’t that simple. The real heavy metal underground ploughed on regardless, and in some ways thrived off the sort of DIY spirit that had fed the second wave of American punk ten years before. And also….and we must say this quietly…metalheads quite liked a bit of Alice in Chains to go alongside their main meal of Carcass. In any event, I definitely get the feel that grunge (and not just the multi-million selling end of the spectrum) is enjoying something of a critical reassessment at the moment, and its sound is definitely influencing the current crop of bands that we’re enjoying, particularly in the UK.
And so we come to Indica Blues new platter; We Are Doomed. This is the band’s second full length release, and it was birthed on 12th February under the guiding hand of APF Records. I must admit that the album cover and title brought Spiritual Beggars’ Earth Blues to mind immediately, so I was expecting some measure of flared trousers here. Happily, I was wrong. I could make this the shortest review I’ve ever written if you’d like?… it’s like early Soundgarden crossed with latter-day Electric Wizard. Have you bought it yet? If you need convincing further, then please carry on reading whilst listening to the stream below.
Opening track, Inhale, really does set the template for the whole record. The grungy (yes, I am going to use that term as an adjective, thank you) guitar intro gives way to a main riff and vocal line that could very easily have come straight from a Witchcult Today-era Electric Wizard. The whiff of Wizard gets even stronger with the title track We Are Doomed. Even the under water sounding guitar solo midway through gives off the vibe of a 70s exploitation horror film.
Demagogue dials down the pace and ups the heaviness. This is where the old school doom metal vibe comes to the fore and you’re beaten into submission by a typically thunderous riff and a drum sound that will be the envy of many a recording engineer.
it’s like early Soundgarden crossed with latter-day Electric Wizard…
Soul Embers then takes us from doom to the desert with a clean guitar intro that is pure Kyuss. The track also features a really confident vocal line from Tom Pilsworth that actually brought to mind the god-like Peter Stahl in delivery, if not tone. In fact, Soul Embers could quite easily slide into the set of either of my favourite Stahl bands; Wool or Goatsnake. It’s a track that you fully expect to follow the classic ‘quiet-loud-quiet’ formula, but it doesn’t – instead it confidently stays in the quiet and foreboding tone of the intro and is all the better for it.
The End Is Calling is where Indica Blues sound most like a garage band. Think Clutch, but without the frenetic unpredictability. The central riff is by far the most bluesy on the album and provides a wonderfully earthbound contrast to what comes next. Cosmic Nihilism lives up to its otherworldly title. The intro to this instrumental track is bluesy and threatening – think Planet Caravan but with added paranoia. This is certainly the most doomed and downtrodden track on the album, and it’s possibly the most effective.
Scarred For Life brings proceedings to a close and back to the grunge vs wizard sounds that we began with. In fact, this track brings to mind my favourite of the early 90s Seattle area bands; the reckless abandon of the mighty Tad!
This is a very easy record to enjoy – which is probably in direct conflict with its title. With We Are Doomed, Indica Blues have taken the best bits of their influences and stuck them together to make a sound of their own and an album that flows really well. It sounds great as well from a production perspective – APF have said this sounds ‘massive’ and I’m not going to disagree. It’s a great mix which balances the ability to pick out the individual guitar parts with the whole sound coming across as one huge piece of fuzzed-up doom-love…and that’s a good thing.
Indica Blues have taken a huge stride forward with this release. Long may we be doomed.
Scribed by: David J McLaren