Sonic Flower - Rides Again

07 Feb 2021 - Thorsten

Heavy Stoner | Heavy Psych Sounds | Release date: 29 Jan 2021

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The legendary lost album by Church of Misery-side project resurfaced after more than fifteen years, rides again and shows why these guys are real masters at work!

We all know about these long-forgotten records that are part of the fame of some bands – take Beach Boys’ Smile as an example. Church of Misery from Japan have been one of the premier stoner/sludge bands this side of the millennium with their heavy instrumental vintage sound and the whole serial killer theme. Twenty years ago, CoM-bassist Tatsu Mikami and then-CoM-guitarist Takenori Hoshi founded Sonic Flower together with drummer Keisuke Fukawa and second guitarist “Arisa”. In 2003, they released their only record a six-track EP Sonic Flower. More than a rumor, the world knew that the band had entered famous Branca Studios in Barcelona to record a follow-up, but those songs never saw the light of day.

Until, in present-day Italy, specialty label Heavy Psych Sounds not only rediscovered the recordings but were also allowed to release them at the end of January, when Rides Again was finally made available for our ears to behold. Tatsu re-formed the group in 2018, and (rumor has it) has already loads of new material, but first he wanted to give us this present.

And my, my, my – what a ride this record is. 28 minutes of psychedelic stoner, with nods to all things heavy and like a bridge between the old and the new waves of heavy rock. Of course, the production is not clean like many regular heavy metal albums nowadays, it’s raw, rough and unpolished. When the distortion towards the end of the opening track “Super Witch” sets in, there might be quite a lot of stereos that cannot deliver its total crispy touch.

The songs sway between acts like Captain Beefheart and Sir Lord Baltimore, Mountain and Cactus. They are super heavy and fuzzed out to the max, but never over-steered or trying to show off, as they want to pay real homage to their own idols. They also do so through the two cover songs on the record – “Earthquake” by Graham Central Station and “Stay Away” by the Meters. The band is all about the good old time when fuzz-rock was a thing next to funk and rock.

“Jungle Cruise” is the highlight of the record with the brilliant guitar work that is somewhere between Afrobeat and Krautrock, some Mountain-like country rock and some flirry Jazz stuff. But the most impressive thing about the song is Fukawa’s drumming that is basically a pushing and emotive tribal beat that really makes your body sweat. Sometimes one hears about a song from this genre being the perfect soundtrack to a blaxploitation movie – the same can be said about “Jungle Cruise” but here the scene is a high intensity car chase along the New Orleans streets jumping in the Bayou.

Don’t expect anything surprising on this record – the band didn’t run amok and totally changed their sound and songwriting. What you get is what you wanted all along. Dry fuzz, awesome drumming, intense riffs and some modulations that do not seek attention gently but that will pull your head back by the hair and then give you one of the most rewarding, sexy kisses you ever got. Every little bone in your ear will be aroused by the unearthed treasure chest that is Rides Again.

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