Featuring members of Goatsnake, The Obsessed and Hollywood Rose (the band that spawned Guns n Roses dontcha know), Sonic Medusa‘s list of members will already have people running lazily to the words ‘Supergroup’ in order to describe this LA quartet. Formed in 2009 the band have earned comparisons to staples of the golden age of heavy metal channelling the likes of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Thin Lizzy in a glorious celebration of music to make you bang your head.
Recording their debut at the legendary Sunset Studios in LA, The Sunset Soundhouse Tapes (surely a tribute to Iron Maiden?), has fittingly been recorded in the same walls that gave birth to Exile On Mainstreet and Volume IV. The whole thing reeks of heritage, so it is no wonder the prospect of this band coaxed Goatsanke drummer Greg Rogers out of retirement to join fellow band mate Scott Renner, new vocalist Dirty D and Decadents/Christian Death man Steven Darrow in turning back the clock to relive the music of their youth.
Immediately from the opening of Medusa the band set their stall out loud and proud. There is more than a whiff of denim and leather as the speed rush of Motörhead meets Judas Priest kicks in. This track features everything you would expect from the classic NWOBHM with histrionic vocals, duelling guitars, sublime lead melodies and harmonies galore.
Even the lyrical content gives a nod to the inspirational material it was born from as Dirty sings about rainbows and ‘sad wings of destiny’. We recently passed the date where Marty McFly travels to the future, well in this future Sonic Medusa have travelled backwards and jumped ship in the past before there were a million sub-genres, illegal downloading and a dwindling amount of stadium filling bands.
If this music doesn’t make you want to don a patch laden denim jacket and have your long hair all business up front and party in the back, then you either have no soul or you may as well stop reading.
Goblin Suite despite it’s shit name is more akin to the Doom we have come to expect from Greg and Scott as they channel the long, deep ringing chords originally wrought by Messer Iommi, Osbourne, Ward and Butler and are capped off by a great vocal performance before the track evolves into a mid tempo chug that is reminiscent of Thin Lizzy at their finest, then throwing in a choppy, slightly odd section, just to show that the band aren’t that slavish to the template of the past.
Cold Wind is back on the attack with a lavish, pomp laden but muscular stomper of a rock that positively bristles with theatrics and features the kind of fast twin harmony that Priest and Maiden have long since made trademarks in their craft and Wolfs Prayer evolves from a creeping sinister start to a huge epic that Grand Magus would be proud of as it melds the trad rock influences with stoner/doom savvy.
To say there is nothing new on The Sunset Soundhouse Tapes belies the fact that this is a record that doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel; it isn’t looking to set a benchmark for future generations, this is just fun music by guys looking to have fun playing music. The band have clearly taken all that they love and poured it into this project with passion and the end result is a great little EP that put a smile on my face as soon as I pressed play.
Captured with the assistance of David Schwerkolt, this is the perfect release for Ripple Music as it nestles nicely alongside other artists such as Grifter, Mothership, Mos Generator and Ape Machine, who all take influences from classic artists and bring them into the modern era. If you like any of the bands on their roster then you’ll love Sonic Medusa – if they get round to making a full length album it’ll be a (quiet) riot.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden