Monday, 27 May 2013

Stoned Jesus - Seven Thunders Roar (2012) | 85%

''I'm an Indian and a Mountain ! Whatever man, I'm high !'' 

Ahhh, Ukraine, such a jewel of the former Soviet Union with its boxers, its vodka and its Borscht. Known for its black metal scene, the country is also producing a large amount of quality doom steel. Stoned Jesus, their best representative, released their sophomore album in 2012 and it's a very cool example of atmospheric doom/stoner. There's also Ethereal Riffian and Narrow House to follow, it's a small but talented scene and its potential is high.

Their debut album
First Communion was pretty good but felt a bit generic and didn't brought anything fresh to the doom/stoner world. It was very fuzzy and quite Sabbathesque, nevertheless, it was promising. On Seven Thunders Roar, the high lord managed to incorporate new influences in their music and it definitely helped to improve it. The psychedelic element was present anteriorly but it's much more refined here and it's now an integrative part of the band's sound. The album is composed of many different kind of atmospheres, it can be very uplifting or heavier. It's never quite dark either, that was one of my complaints at first. I thought the album was too happy for this kind of music. I know that's a very silly reason ! The mood is indeed soothing most of the time, I need to quote one of my stoner friends who said that about the last song ''Stormy Monday'' : ''The chorus is the equivalent of lifting off on the back of a dragon above a big ocean after taking bong rips''. That's a very fitting description. The feel good side of the band can be a bit overwhelming, at least for someone such as myself who prefers the darker ambiance of doom metal. Nonetheless, they play that style very well and it works. and the songwriting is still pretty damn strong, it's served beautifully by the organic musicianship.

The complete cover art! 
Igor (guitars, vocals) is a pretty cool dude. His vocals are quite psychedelic and they're pleasing to the ear. There's no harsh vocals to be found here, it's very mom friendly, you can play the record when you're on a pic nic with your douchebags friends and they probably won't complain too much. You should probably smoke some weed with them while you're there....yeaaaaaaaah ! The epic track ''I'm the Mountain'' starts with an instrumental intro of three minutes but nonetheless, the vocals are still an important part of the band's identity as there's some really groovy choruses and sing along songs like ''Indian''. It would had been nice to hear the band in their mother tongue though (Ukrainian or Russian, I don't know actually). We're in an era where many bands choose to go back to their roots and sing in their mother tongue, if folk metal can do it, doom should too as I feel it's one of the most honest incarnation of the iron arts.

The accent is not too thick but it's a bit weird to hear an Ukrainian stoner sing ''I'm an Indian !!! Yeah, I guess he's fucking stoned, drunk or both at the same time! So, a cool clean vocal delivery similar to the classic/psychedelic era, a good range and weird ass hippie lyrics are fundamental to the band's imagery. The lyrics are quite good and not written in Engrish. They're not your typical try hard occult bullshit with references to Lucifer and to be honest, that's cool because the whole formula is getting tired. Igor wrote metaphors about his life and it's pretty damn fabulous. They're psychedelic words with a joyful 60s Acid vibe

"On a silver unicorn. Rides that lady of the storm. Heaven's bliss from up above. She's the queen of all beloved"

You can also get a glimpse of how they sound by looking at the amazing cover, I mean there's a skull on fire, a bear, an Amerindian, an owl, a crow and a deer. Weeeeeeeeed. Yessir !

The production is very lush and rich, the bass is loud in the mix but it's very flattering. The band works well as a power trio. The drummer is groovy and Igor's riffistic approach is subtle and natural. Like the production, the transitions between mid paced, slow and faster moments are very smooth. They can write longer songs effortlessly and it would be very cool to see the try to write an epic à la Dopesmoker, I think they have to skill to attain such greatness. Seven Thousands Roar is a very good album but the band is still young and I'm convinced they can do way better. I think Ancestors's progression is an apt example for them. They're basically became more progressive with each albums while never really denying their doom/stoner roots. That's what I'd like Stoned Jesus to do too. They can break their boundaries even more, man ! 

I don't know what's in their brownies but I'm gonna cook some. Here's the recipe. But first, you'll need a versatile guitar, a fuzzy bass and some groovy drumming. Don't forget the Orange amplifiers ! These are crucial to the brownies' mix ! You'll also need :
-100 lb of traditional doom metal
-25 lb of psychedelic rock influences
-125 lb of stoner rock/metal
-10 tablespoons of progressive
-10 to 15 bong hits
-A bear rug

Cook tenderly during 50 minutes and you'll have a fucking awesome doom album.

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