If you were to look up the phrase ‘All Killer, No Filler’ in, say Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase And Fable or some such, it’s a fairly safe bet that you would simply find a large picture of the front cover of Kult Occult staring back at you, as that is quite literally what Leather Nun America have delivered here with their fourth full-length release. A lean, mean rockin’ machine with not an ounce of flab on its solid frame, Kult Occult is the result of eight years in the biz, honing chops, paying dues and generally takin’ care of business for Leather Nun America, and, let me tell you, it is one HELL of a payoff.
Beneath an unassuming, goat-head bedecked, cover lurk nine of the finest Doom Metal/Stoner Doom/Biker Rock…whatever the hell you wanna call ‘em…tunes that it has been my privilege to hear in many a day. Monster tunes, delivered by three gentlemen who, back in the day, would have been roundly referred to as real motherfuckers by other musicians in recognition of their skill and sheer bad-assedness. We’re talking Wino levels of bad-assedness here.
I shit you not, Leather Nun America are most definitely MOTHERFUCKERS.
Now, mentioning Wino has more than likely made more than a few of you prick up your ears and pay attention, and you’d be goddamn right to – Leather Nun America are fully paid-up purveyors of Maryland Doom with roots that stretch back as far as band members attending the same high school as members of The Obsessed. These boys are LIFERS.
Now, as to the tunes, business commences, following a short sample of a Jack Nicholson scene from Easy Rider – something reprised again later on down the line – with ‘Murderkkult’, an opening track that shows you exactly what Leather Nun America can deliver, in spades: massive, syrupy grooves that swing like elephant balls, tight-ass boogie runs, electrifying guitar solos and a soulful vocal with more than a touch of Wino to it.
John Sarnie is the man delivering both the croon of doom and the arcs of lightning that double as solos, and, man, he is the MAN. Don’t get me wrong, bassist George and drummer Mark Markowitz have it nailed down tighter than a fat mans undergarments, but Sarnie is the guy who makes the tunes sing.
Second track, ‘Indra’, has a tone soooo fat you just wanna get your teeth into it. The ghost of The Obsessed is vividly conjured here with Sarnie’s throaty vocals, electric eel soloing and the general dark monster groove to the thing, along with the occasional unusual chord choice. Toward the end of the tune, the bass comes snarling up in the mix and it’s like a bulldozer of tone, barrelling right toward you.
Not that Leather Nun America do a straight-out bite of Wino and co, no sir, they have enough of their own voodoo to go around, it’s just that you can really hear and feel the Maryland heritage seeping out of these boys. They’re part of a lineage to be proud of.
‘Lasting Dose’ is a real beauty. A ghostly psych-tinged number built around crystal-clear acoustic picking, a spectral organ, minimal hand percussion and a smeared and layered vocal that just drips with emotion. Sounds like some E-bow action going on here too, with all the gorgeous singing sustain on display.
The reverie is broken by ‘White Horse’ crashing in with a taut boogie-riff, an Elvis-does-Danzig vocal – I’m guessing from bassist George – and a pocket full of sheer bad-assed attitude. The mid-section swaggers and strolls like a peacock before breaking down into an irresistible ‘Children Of The Grave’-but-amped-up-style bluesy boogie and a nasty-ass wah solo. Punchy, taut, tight and meanin’ business all the way.
The amped-up Sabs-style boogie runs through into next track ‘Anointed With Blood Of The Snake’ too, which also has a dynamite vocal performance from Sarnie and, yup, you guessed it, another RIPPING solo. Sarnie’s playing style is most definitely in the same ballpark as Wino’s, and his solos flow and writhe like he’s letting quicksilver electric eels loose from his fingers. Magickal stuff.
After a brief acoustic interlude – the clear-as-an-unmuddied-lake beauty of ‘Sacrosanct’ – ‘Born Cold’ totally brings The Obsessed magick out again, sounding, as it does, like something from the legendary self-titled ‘purple’ album. Alternating between a massive swaggering, rolling groove and a speedy boogie-tumble, the track oozes class and assurance. The guitars are huge and chewy as hell, the bass rolls along beneath, pulling the track along with it and the drums are right on the money, tight and powerful. A killer vocal and a seriously electrifying extended guitar solo are the icing on the top of an extremely tasty cake. When the band lurches back into the hulking main riff again as Sarnie shreds himself into a frenzy, I defy you to listen and not get PUMPED.
‘Damiana’ comes on like some kind of genetic-experiment-hybrid of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ and The Animals ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ with its strummed acoustic intro leading to a picked main section and tremulously emotional vocals, before subtly martial drumming and a layered guitar harmony and solo section see the piece out, leading to a reprise of Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider and the final number, punchy instrumental speedball ‘Leadcatcher’, a track that sounds like the unholy union of speedy punks Zeke and intru-stoner-riffers Karma To Burn gone feral and extra punchy. Just the kind of short, sharp shock to end on, leaving your adrenaline pumping and jonesing for more, more, MORE. Hell, thirty-six minutes is nowhere NEAR enough of these boys.
I truly cannot throw enough superlatives at this record. It really is THAT damn good. Now, I’m sure I’ve waffled enough at you about it now, so it’s time you experienced its charms for yourself. Get over to PsycheDOOMELIC, or your other retailer of choice and buy, buy, BUY. What are you waiting for?
JUST GO GET IT!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson