Now, this is what I’m talking about. Much-loved New York heavy psych/garage rock trio Sun Voyager return with their second record, and first for Ripple Music, the self-titled Sun Voyager, and it is literally anything and everything a fan of this type of music could ask for. Heavy and trippy, with way-fuzzed-out riffing, echo-y, distorted vocals, and hypnotic, epic, rhythmic bashing, but served up in a garage rock aesthetic. As well, Sun Voyager flows along briskly, never descending into a morass of psychedelic sonics, or non-stop waves of guitar squalls.
Behold opener, and second single God Is Dead ll as it explodes out of the speakers with drummer Kyle Beach’s roll, before guitarist/vocalist Carlos Francisco unleashes a completely rippin’, fuzzed-out riff, all the while bassist Stephen Mersch glides and rumbles between his two bandmates. Ten seconds into Sun Voyager and it’s clear that there will be no fucking around, as the band declare their sonic intentions unmistakably.
With an opener like God Is Dead ll it’s easy to wonder if, as bands have been known to do, putting their most slamming foot forward on the album opener, would lead to a slight letdown on the following tracks, but have no fear, Sun Voyager do not let their foot off the gas at all with the charging, bashing fuzz-fest Run For Your Life. Beach and Mersch pound the shit out of the groove, allowing Francisco to riff, and urgently wail away, the band proffering a real sense of urgency, and perhaps impending danger.
First single, the fuzz-and-wah drenched Some Strange offers the listener a slight reprieve from the fuzz/psych aural assault of the opening two tracks, with a more relaxed, mid-tempo drive. Francisco’s trippy, echo-y vocals sound killer here, feeling both melodic and spacey, but still maintaining Sun Voyager’sestablished drive and charge. It’s not hard to understand why the band chose this song as their first single.
Rip The Sky is a rolling, hypnotic, distorted, psychedelic bash-fest as Sun Voyagerseem intent on pounding the riff and groove into the listener’s consciousness. Rip The Sky literally unfolds right into To Hell We Ride, another up-tempo, heavy-garage bash fest, that features an impossibly killer riff and a nice bridge featuring some frantic wah-lead action from Francisco, and some hip-shaking groove from Beach and Mersch.
Sun Voyager simply do not fuck around, delivering a cohesive, fluid, totally rocking, fuzzed-out, heavy psych/garage rock bash-fest from start to finish…
Feeling Alright, indeed, allows Francisco to go nuts on the wah whilst unleashing some epic vocal stylings, that feature a catchy chorus, starts and stops, twists and turns and a super trippy mid-section breakdown featuring some killer organ action, fuzzed-out lead work from Francisco, all the while Breach and Mersch hold down the groove. Certainly, the most epic and progressive track on Sun Voyager.
The Vision brings Sun Voyager to a close with a particularly grimy, dirty, fuzzed-out riff from Francisco, and the same established, unstoppable rhythmic assault from Mersch and Beach. It’s heavy, fuzzy, rocking and urgent, and the mammoth riff at the midway point is totally crushing, and with that, Sun Voyager comes to a breathless close.
I listened to Sun Voyager A LOT in preparing for this review. I couldn’t help it as this is right up my alley, and features sonics that hit that aural sweet spot for me. The thing is, with so many heavy psych bands, they will tend to stray off into prog-freakout land, sometimes unintentionally killing whatever momentum they may have previously established. Not so here. Sun Voyager simply do not fuck around, delivering a cohesive, fluid, totally rocking, fuzzed-out, heavy psych/garage rock bash-fest from start to finish. Yes, there are plenty of effects, yes, there is plenty of distortion to be sure, but the band keeps the pedal to the metal, preferring to bash the listener into their astral form with their unrelenting hypnotic, riff-assault.
This is heavy psych done right. No bullshit. Sun Voyager, along with the latest White Hills album, adds two outstanding records to the east coast, heavy psych canon. Empathically recommended.
Scribed by: Martin Williams