Houston’s Warlung are a band that’s been on my radar for a few years now, yet another band on my never-ending mountain of bands and albums I need to listen to. When Warlung’s fourth album, Vulture’s Paradise showed up in the promo pool, I jumped at the opportunity to check them out. Right off the bat, whatever pre-conceived expectations I had went right out the window, starting with, going by the band’s name, I expected something a lot sludgier, more lumbering, and I was pleasantly surprised by Warlung’s warm, fuzzy, and melodic sound. As well, many heavy bands from Texas share a certain regional sound, or groove, and while there’s some of that here, I feel Warlung are doing more here than just playing stoner rock with a ZZ Top boogie-bent.
These observations are apparent right off the bat as Vulture’s Paradise opens up with Hypatia and I’m instantly struck by the soaring, harmonizing vocals of guitarists and co-vocalists George Baba and Phillip Bennett. Their voices complement each other as well as their ‘70s-style riffage. Hypatia’s a nice appetizer, setting the stage for the epic, desert rock meets ‘90s grunge awesomeness of Sky Burial. Here, again, Baba and Bennett’s vocals take center stage as their voices soar above the riffs, building to a nice, chunky, riff-fest, complete with some shred, that carries Sky Burial toward its massive breakdown.
The title track, Vulture’s Paradise, initially gives off some Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats vibes, as Baba and Bennett sound eerily like the UK garage doom stalwarts, to say nothing of their initial riff-burst, but the early comparison evaporates faster than water on a Texas highway as Warlung instead lock into some slightly trippy stoner psych, before the first sonic inclination that this is a Texas band shows up with some wicked slide-guitar action. The mix of harmonizing vocals, tripped out riffs and slide guitar work is most certainly welcome to my earholes. The vibes continue on Demonocracy, another mid-tempo chuggger, as again Baba and Bennett’svocals take center stage.
The first single Return Of The Warlords reminds me of what The Sword might sound like, with Uncle Acid’s vocal approach. As well, Baba and Bennett lean into some Texas-styler stoner/boogie riffs during the middle breakdown, that are pure fire, and that’s not to mention the heavy, boogie, freak-out as the song winds back into the initial verse. Scorching stuff.
Speaking of scorching, Grave Marauders is full-on, head-banging, chugging, heavy-Texas-boogie rock, made all the more killer by the ever-present, soaring, harmonizing vocals of Baba and Bennett. Caveman Blues is as close to Warlung get to Uncle Acid, as the warm, fuzzed-out march and soaring vocals had me yet again thinking of the Cambridge/London crew for sonic comparisons
Warlung seem to have effortlessly blended ‘90s grunge with stoner rock and Texas boogie/riff rock to an awesome effect…
As Vulture’s Paradise works its way to its conclusion, we’re treated with the tripped out heavy, yet melodic vibe of the penultimate Worship The Void, deftly setting the stage for the absolutely killer closing number Runes. A melancholic, acoustic track that slowly unfolds into epic album closer status, complete with touches of killer warm-riffage mixed into the emotive build-up that reaches its climax with soaring lead guitar action, before Warlung, bring it down, dropping into Planet Caravan mode as the song slowly fades out.
It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the rhythm section of bassist Chris Tamez and drummer Ethan Tamez (I’m guessing they’re brothers?) as both do a stellar job holding down the low-end groove, allowing Baba and Bennett to excel, with Ethan Tamez’s performance being of particular note to my ears.
Vulture’s Paradise is a fantastic album that offers many styles, and moods, as well as being pretty original sounding, as not many bands can pull off the dynamic, vocal harmonizing of Baba and Bennett, but then again, very few bands possess one singer of this caliber, let alone two. I suppose that’s why Alice In Chains, and to a lesser extent Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, sound so different from their respective contemporaries.
Warlung seem to have effortlessly blended ‘90s grunge with stoner rock and Texas boogie/riff rock to an awesome effect. They have also thrown yet another monkey wrench into my already-stuffed best of 2022 list. Recommended.
Scribed by: Martin Williams