It has been a mere two years since Robots Of The Ancient World released their sophomore album, Mystic Goddess, for Small Stone Records and Kozmik ArtIfactz to a glowing review by my fellow scribe Martin Williams who rightly enthused that the seven-track slab of teutonic stoner rock was a contender for 2021’s end of year best-of lists. In his review, he covers the history of the band and the background to that album in detail, so I don’t need to don my music lecturer hat today when talking about this potent follow-up, much to the relief of regular readers I’m sure who simply want to know if it is any good.
If I can beg your indulgence a short while longer, I’ll just set the scene for the cryptically titled 3737…
Those in tune with spiritualism and symbolism will be aware that it is referred to as the ‘Angel Number’; Theoretically the presence of this numerology in your life is guardian angels attempting to communicate through divine numbers, this one in particular expressing that ‘magic and manifestation are knocking at your door’ and that, ‘you are about to attract your innermost desires’.
Having spent the last few years dealing with the fallout from the pandemic and in their own words, ‘coping with the loss of loved ones, heartache, and mental anguish, the band decided to harness this energy and pour it into 3737’.
To hammer this point home, note the run time of the six songs here clock in at 37 minutes and 37 seconds.
Grinding into life with dense, thick fuzz and retro-flavoured bass, Hindu Kush swaggers with solid blues riffing punctuated by dramatic stabbing lead flourishes that establish the band’s throwback rock and roll credentials once more. Differing in tone from the opening track of the last album, Robots Of The Ancient World seem less concerned with Eastern mythology and embraces the grittier, down-and-dirty side of stoner rock. Last time out Jack Endino’s mix was clean and expansive, here the recording was handled by the band with the assistance of renowned engineer, Billy Anderson and mastering done by Justin Weirs, it sounds just as big but gives off more of a classic stoner vibe.
When Caleb Weidenbach joins the fray, his vocals still retain that Danzig-like quality, but the overarching Lizard King influence leans more toward the hoary old bluesman style of latter-day Doors output like Morrison Hotel or L.A. Woman. In addition to the shamanistic rambling he slides effortlessly into a massive uplifting chorus as the guitar spirals off into a dizzying solo.
After setting the scene they slow it down with the creeping intro to Creature. This noodling, quiet beginning evolves into a lush, loose jamming style that they then stomp all over with a Black Sabbath-esque thump.
Robots Of The Ancient World have proven once again they are a band that delivers classic hard rock filtered through a number of complementary styles with aplomb…
Once again Weidenbach scats over the verses which are made up of Trevor Bereck’s deep, pulsing bass and Harry Silver’s taught drumming which allow the tag team of Nico Schmutz and Justin Laubscher to trade riffs and histrionics in a slamming mid-paced tempo that seems to psych itself up to deliver the hooky gang pre-chorus and horse melody.
The bounce of Holy Ghost is head nodding nirvana as it ratchets through the gears building once again to a soaring chorus. The heavy combative twists and turns on the track mean that it never settles into a formulaic trance, and just past the halfway mark, the band set off on a proto-metal speed rush combining manic space rock and seventies prog rock extravagance that hints at overindulgence but thankfully walks the knowing line of how far to push it. It’s only on repeat listens you can pick out the swirling, cosmic grunge that was present in their previous album, but here is used to augment the seemingly back-to-basics style with acute subtlety.
Moustache on the surface might be a ridiculous title, but it is one hell of a tune. The second longest-running track on the album, it is the first time the band ventures into epic territory. Starting with a soft, clean ringing guitar tone they draw you into the smokey atmosphere as it starts to build with the increasingly urgent drum pattern before breaking out into the chugging groove. Once again, the vocals soar with dramatic showmanship, seemingly channelling multiple personalities capable of changing mood and technique at the drop of a hat, bullish and commanding one minute and then soft and crooning the next, proving that in addition to the skilful musicianship, they also possess a standout vocalist capable of putting his own signature on the proceedings.
The acoustic instrumental Apollo feels like a continuation of the previous tracks ending and forms a bridge to the final number Silver Cloud. A moment of calm in the storm that recalls those mystical overlays of old and scratching string changes before the mood is crashed by a garbled sample that sets up the start of the mammoth closer.
Immediately gripping you with the majestic intro, this ten-minute doom anthem has an unsurprisingly and decidedly European take on the Kyuss blueprint and its loose jam feel harks back to the centrepiece of Mystic Goddess which Martin described as a ‘sprawling, crawling, cosmic blues doom monster’. Likewise, this carves a similar path, but for me, better placed at the end of the album as I like my expansive, down-the-rabbit hole psychedelic trips to be the last thing the band leaves me with, like Wo Fat’s stunning Oracle off The Singularity or the title track from Ritual King’s recent The Infinite Mirror.
With 3737, Robots Of The Ancient World have proven once again they are a band that delivers classic hard rock filtered through a number of complementary styles with aplomb. For me, this one edges it over the previous release as a fan of the overdriven fuzz, but that’s not to take away from the fact that they have made two impressively good albums back-to-back.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden