By Gruesome Greg
The latest release from Toronto’s longest-running stoner/doom outfit has been a couple years in the making, but it’s surely worth the wait. Recorded and produced by the band, they’ve said this is the way they’ve always wanted their records to sound. Alas, no need to put a stopwatch on these songs; as they say, slow and steady wins the race…
“Far From Fine” meanders out of the gate, some slight feedback leading into a burst of heavy space blues. Nothing complex or profound about these structures, this is straight-ahead sledgehammer sludge. “Lessons” starts off slower than its predecessor, some space-bass-in-your-face ushering in a slothful slice of slo-mo doom. Vocals are airy and soaked in reverb, Ken being one of the few singers who can pull off this effect with aplomb. Chorus is when the dial gets tuned to uber-heavy, some classic OTIS riffage pummeling yer synapses before a trippy-wicked solo. Not a bad way to get things going!
“Alone” conveys its sentiment of solitude through some Dave Chandler-influenced doom dirges, this one creeping along like Vitus in their prime, but with that drawn-out otherworldliness that’s distinctly OTIS. “Guilt” is one of a couple tunes that have been in the band’s (sporadic) live set for a little bit; the perfect centrepiece to this record, Ken’s paranoid ramblings resounding over a rumbling backbeat. I can hear what they mean about this being the ideal-sounding record—it’s got that organic, jam-room feel without coming off as too bargain-basement.
The album ends on a couple longer numbers, albeit with one sub-five-minute song in between. “PK” dips and dives like a Habs defenceman, a slow-rolling groove that’ll get yer head noddin’ as some cosmic space FX float past on your right. “Never in My Life” hits like a head-on collision between Saint Vitus and Hendrix, Ryan channelling Mitch Mitchell behind the kit and Gene Frenkle on the cowbell in this dirty, distorted blues number. Album-closing “Cosmic Jam” was clearly born out of some on-stage improvisation, as I’m sure I’ve heard those retrofied grooves before, ending things off on a welcome note. All in all, she sure sounds good to me!