Following 2020’s Andiamo Nel Deserto (Let’s Go to the Desert) and 2021’s Elle, De La Mer (She, From The Sea) both of which were brilliantly reviewed by Shaman colleague Liam Blanc, we now have Voda Alebo Oheň (Water or Fire) the third and final EP in the series. By the series, I’m of course referring to ‘the adventures of occult Detectives Nico L’oscuro, Quello Bello and Sentire, and their supernatural and magical practices to uncover the mystery behind the death of a woman from New Mexico’, as is stated in the promotional notes.
L’uomo Nero (The Boogeyman) are from Albuquerque, New Mexico and consist of Dominic Cagliostro (Domenico L’oscuro) on vocals and guitar, Robson Guy (Quello Bello) on bass and Luke Seelau (Sentire) on drums. As with previous efforts in the series, the artwork is top-notch and fits in perfectly with the Lovecraftian themes of the trilogy.
The first minute or so of Water Or Fire starts slowly like a ‘50s style ballad with a doo-wop vibe, before picking up steam with some raw rock ‘n’ roll energy injected into the proceedings. What catches the ear is how deceptively simple the track appears but it’s often the case that writing effective shorter, hook laden, tracks can be the most challenging. Not for L’uomo Nero though who manages it effortlessly.
The first time I heard Push And Pull I knew it was destined to be a sure-fire personal favourite. It reminds me of the finest of ‘80s punk influenced bluesy hard rock that Tito & Tarantula, Revenge era TSOL, Cruzados, Los Lobos and X would have served up. The track is so infectious that I could not help but have a little boogie around the living room (with curtains firmly drawn and lights switched off that is). Fantastic.
The track is so infectious that I could not help but have a little boogie around the living room…
After the perfection of the previous track, it was difficult to see how the band could top it, the answer is that they don’t attempt to. When I Wake Up, the shortest track on the album (though not by much) has a power trio feel to it, coincidentally the band are a three-piece themselves, and as such Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience start springing to mind. There’s even a groovy southern-rock element that may recall The Allman Brothers, Blackfoot, hell even a little ZZ Top. Yet what’s incredible is how original, fresh and contemporary the band manage to sound despite these older school influences, a testament to their skill and originality no doubt.
The High Road feels like a lament and is definitely a change both in tempo and mood when compared to the preceding tracks. Whereas the rest of Voda Alebo Oheň seemed relatively chipper, here proceedings take more of a low-key, reserved and downbeat note, it’s as if the band are mourning the end of what has been a deservedly acclaimed and successful series. The sense of finality conjured by the track is one which feels wholly appropriate and thus the ideal way to conclude the EP.
Desert Records really do manage to source the best bands, how they do it God only knows. I do know that as someone who lives in tribute band central, I for one more than appreciate what label head Brad Fyre is providing in terms of inspiring original content. L’uomo Nero are yet another quality band on a quality label and it will be interesting to see where the trio go from here, will it be another EP series or a full-length debut? Whatever they decide, I for one will be eagerly tuned in.
Scribed by: Reza Mills