Review: Reverend Mother ‘Damned Blessing’

With only an EP under their belts thus far, Reverend Mother are here to up the ante and have delivered an album, which is nine tracks filled with eclectic fuzz, and passionate playing, straight out of the sixties era, to melt your mind to.

If you’re unaware of Reverend Mother, they are a Brooklyn three piece, who were formerly known under the moniker of Priestess. Due to this being far too popular a name, Jackie Green and her cohorts changed the name, to the much more aptly titled Reverend Mother.

Reverend Mother 'Damned Blessing'

Since then, they have been busy making a name for themselves, and have stepped up, ready to unleash Damned Blessing, just as the world needs something a little new and fresh to distract us from all the other problems going on around the globe right now.

Now, I’m not saying Damned Blessing will be the cure or a way of bringing people together, but it damned well should be. Fitting snuggly into a psychedelic doom jacket and invoking the spirit of the almighty Sabbath at times, Reverend Mother are here, so get ready, because they are taking no prisoners.

Damned Blessing is just short of three-quarters of an hour, of deep diving fuzzy doom, which to listen to, would have you believe there’s far more heritage in this band then the reality would suggest. To listen to the album, you would want to believe that this band have been at this stuff for years, but the reality is actually it’s a much more recent venture indeed.

Over the course of the album, there are some real surprises and considering the slant you could make towards certain bands of this ilk, Reverend Mother are surprisingly hard to confine into any one pigeonhole. It would be easy to point fingers towards Black Sabbath, based on Jackie’s apparent love for the four piece, but the sound, even though reminiscent at times, is actually pretty removed indeed. I would go as far as to say that if you took a big fat slab of Blues Pills, and interlaced some Sabbath, that’s nearer the mark.

It even nods towards The Donnas at times, it has a real playful upbeat vibe, which is missing in so much of this genre’s music. Not that it takes away from the intensity, when it’s heavy, its monumental, but I would go as far as to say this is a rejuvenation into a sound which seems to have become formulaic and stale. That’s why it’s hard to confine Reverend Mother to one demographic, as they are so much more than what’s written on paper.

The way Jackie’s vocals are set to the driving drums, the opulent guitar and rumbling bass really is a thrill…

Right from opening track, the incredibly cool How To Serve Man, the band are taking no prisoners. The slow drudgy doom is quickly broken as the full experience rolls in. Swaying between a slower bassy drudge, and exuberant passages, it refuses to stand still. This is where I draw those Blues Pills comparisons, just to give it some context. The way Jackie’s vocals are set to the driving drums, the opulent guitar and rumbling bass really is a thrill. By the time it fades off, Reverend Mother have already captured my attention.

After the brief instrumental track of Funeral March, the scene is set, and Locomotive kicks the doors down, and blasts forth, to cement the tone this is all going to take. An up-tempo track, as heavy as it is vibrant, the sum of its parts makes for an incredible experience, and it’s this feeling which remains throughout the whole album.

Tracks such as Road To Lose and Shame truly capture the bands spirit, with a retro stoner sound, without feeling dated. It’s a high-octane feast for the ears, with a bass rumble that Geezer Butler himself would be very proud of. After The Masochist Tie solidifies this feeling with its nine-minute length, all that’s left is a real curveball to finish the album.

Now, usually I would take the idea of covering a Britney Spears tune with a massive pinch of salt while pouring pepper into my eyes, but their reimagining of Toxic absolutely works, and it’s pretty much unrecognisable. The way this has been approached, and crafted, leaves it as far removed from its original as it could be, and it works. To clarify, to say ‘it works’, I mean, it ‘really fucking works’, and then some. Not a parody, as much as a complete reworking, by a band who must have had a lot of fun playing with the concept, and the idea of transforming it into a legitimate doom piece instead.

Coming to this album, I did have some reservations, psychedelic doom conjures up ideas and concepts which have been done to death, and there are only a few bands who can pull it off convincingly. After this, I would like to add one new name to that list, and its Reverend Mother. To hear is to believe, I hope you will have read this, and are going to check the band out, you will be richly rewarded indeed.

Label: Seeing Red Records
Band Links: Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish