UK based heavy experimental’s Trepanation Recordings have been busy in the Plague Year, almost exclusively specialising in the nastier, angrier side of alternative, noise and metal. Next to emerge from the depths of Trepanation’s release roster are Swansea’s Lurcher. A trio that makes up three quarters of stoner merchants Hark, Lurcher’s debut EP Coma, although not venturing too far from their predecessors’ sound, offers up a brief but powerful wallop of heavy rock/grunge. Paying homage to the early 90s Pacific Northwest in the vein of Mother Love Bone and Green River, Lurcher takes this archetype and shrouds it in a hazy mist of stoner metal that conjures up images of the rugged and stormy Welsh coastline.
The eponymous Coma opens up like a hammer to the chest. Almost having no time to introduce themselves to the listener, the trio instantly attack our senses with a ferocious barrage of quick rolling fills and crashes, accompanied by duelling guitar and bass. After the short-and-sweet but devastating introduction, Lurcher plateaus into a steady, banging mid-paced melody where Joe Harvatt’s vocals are given space to develop into nostalgic sympathy to 90s grunge flavoured with gruff stoner stylings. To be honest, Harvatt’s vocals were the deciding factor for me when it came to Lurcher; within the first few moments I knew I would enjoy this EP. Somewhat akin to Kyuss’ John Garcia, Harvatt’s voice transports me right back to the first time I heard Welcome To Sky Valley. Such a comparison might be cliché but growing up Kyuss were a formative band for my future tastes and judging from the first few minutes of Coma, the same might be true of Lurcher.
Remove The Myth From The Mountain is more laid back in its approach to its opener. The song’s introduction fills the room with grungy pop melodies that is reminiscent of something you might find among Failure or Helmet. This quickly dissipates into a trudging, heavy handed web of riffs and steady straight-ahead drum work. Harvatt installs a well-placed bluesy solo into the mix which you would doubtlessly find in Tad’s Inhaler. Nothing here can be considered complicated and the beauty of Lurcher is found in this simplicity of the hard grunge that they’ve created. I sometimes find this stuff really boring; stoner bands can be a dime of dozen in an ocean of mediocrity, but the heavy, grunge-pop atmosphere that Lurcher present in this track is something that cannot be denied. This will bring a smile to your face.
There are two camps under the banner of grunge; one is situated in classic rock and blues, the other sets itself into hardcore punk. All Now Is Here is where Lurcher let us know where their allegiance lies. The repetitive, churning blues rock riff that overlays Simon Bonwick’s heft driven smashing percussion is a tumultuous ode to Mother Love Bone and the Screaming Trees. This track is pure grunge which is at once radio friendly and again uniquely heavy, playing out like three people who have listened to too much Melvins and Neil Young at the same time (which is most certainly not a bad thing). All Now Is Here peters out into a dreamy soundscape which brings to mind the remote ocean left undisturbed and calm after days of crash and swell. Lurcher here create an atmosphere of calm before the final tempest.
Coma is a recording that is entirely drenched in nostalgia…
Lurcher bring their sophomore release to conclusion with the appropriately titled Cross To Bear. The longest track on the EP is perhaps also the heaviest as the louder elements of the song can be at times crushing. However, the polished production of Harvett’s guitar harmonics and overlays take on a ‘twinkly’ value over the density of the main riff, pulling Lurcher once more away from violent stoner origins toward alternative orientated 90s grunge. Musically Cross To Bear is probably the most typical song on the entire EP with regard to its influence as the closer sounds similar to the more melodic ends of Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Mad Season (…I guess?). As the entirety of Coma draws to its inevitable end, a psych-infused guitar solo accompanied by subtle keyboards allows us to think fondly of Faith No More’s The Real Thing. As a band Lurcher are defined by their influences.
Coma is a recording that is entirely drenched in nostalgia. There isn’t necessarily anything new here but there is a lot of fun. The band have described themselves as ‘atmospheric, but with sludge influences.’ An atmosphere is most certainly there and while at times it makes me think of the swell and swoon of the ocean, it reminds me more of personal experience and years gone. Lurcher’s sound reminds me of the first time I drank piss poor cans of lager, experimented with drugs and heard something that was beyond the sphere of Nirvana. It makes me smile and reminds me of a naive and exciting time.
I’m somewhat new to Trepanation Recordings and from what I’ve heard thus far, Lurcher are one of the more straight forward and accessible bands on their roster. Not as dark, nor weird, as their labelmates, Lurcher make up for this in fun hooks and overall nostalgia. Pick up the cassette this September from Trepanation Recordings for a modern take on an older sound.
Scribed by: Mark Louth