12 Nov 2021 - Thorsten
Psychedelic Proto-Metal | Rebel Waves Records | Release date: 19 Nov 2021
What would AC/DC sound like, if they had decided to fuse their hard Boogie with Psychedelic elements rather than Blues and Hard Rock? The answer to this never-posed-question can now be heard! No, there is not another AC/DC record, but a band that embodies the aforementioned combination: Snake Mountain Revival! The name alone is already pure magic, right?
Mix in Blue Cheer and Dick Dale (yes!) - and you have an idea of what to expect when putting on Everything In Sight, the debut full-length by the Virginia Beach-trio, who are presumably big fans of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, as Snake Mountain was the antagonist’s lair. And yet there is not yet another 80s throwback synth-thing but it goes back even further than that as it seems to have fallen into a wormhole at the beginning of 1970 or ‘71 and have come back out in 2021!
SMR have written some of these eight songs at earlier stages after the band’s formation in 2017, so some of these songs have been re-worked for this full-length debut with a total running time of 43 minutes. Now the record comes out via Rebel Waves Records, an imprint of Ripple Music, and the musicality of the three musicians is really astonishing. Combined with the enchanting and head-spinning vocal qualities of bassist Ryan Chandler, everyone should be throwing an ear or two towards this release if one likes heavy and yet soulful sounds. For the combination is the trademark of SMR – the songs are heavy rockers at times, but the use of psychedelia, twang and distortion is always much more refined than this description.
A perfect example for the band’s way of constructing songs might be ”Graveyard Grove” which starts with a bassline and some twang that Tarantino would die for, it sounds like straight from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, and Chandler’s vocals keep the attention high. He is a charming crooner who spins his net around your eardrums and won’t move any time soon. And then – after 2:30 minutes – Zack Trowbridge’s guitar is being fuzzed up and kicking up way more dust than before so that this song turns from Psychedelic Surf-Rock to Straight-A’s-Space-Rock. Combined with the pretty Rolling Stones-like solo the song is following no apparent pattern heard before but is an amazingly cohesive experience, also because of the intense vocals that are (once more) delivered here.
The title track and longest song on the record (with more than 8:30 minutes) features a stop-and-go (or cut-up-) intro that might even have been done by Devo and when the track then sounds like Krautrock dancing with Post-Punk this is no even close to what you experience over the course of these more than 500 seconds. The track slows down and very often reminds me of one of Germany’s earliest and still best Punk bands – Ton Steine Scherben, whose songs often combined the twang, the psychedelic and the kraut. Amazing is the drive of the rhythm section which always comes in at the perfect time, it seems, and even more astonishing is the fact that Chandler and drummer Josh Woodhouse also take a necessary step back to give the song a short break (at more or less exactly half-time and again after 5:30 minutes) for a few seconds and slow it even down a tiny bit, before getting back into their dominant groove from before.
These two songs are perfect examples of what awaits on this wonderful surprise – Snake Mountain Revival sound as feverish as this review might imply. But they are never childish, for they take their songs seriously and one feels that they are at ease with their skills and abilities and do not need to prove anything to anyone. They make the music they love for a (hopefully growing) audience that should witness them at festivals like Freak Valley, Desertfest or even Roadburn. Their sounds would definitely be right up that alley!