rick and roll
This band from Denmark bills itself as hippie stoner rock - that label sells the music short. The record has a diversity that transcends those constricting labels. There's a lot of soul in the music, in no small part to vocalist Lene Kjaer Hvillum, who is a perfect marriage of Janis Joplin and Ian Astbury. The word is ATTITUDE, and she has plenty of it. The other impressive trait of the band is the guitar soloing, which is succinct and staccato - nothing wasted, to the point, and pure rock and roll.
The record starts off with "Cage of Glass", which is a classic rock opener. Three and a half minutes of powerhouse riffs, getting you into the mood. At this point, I'm not sure which direction the record will go. The song is pretty much hard stoner rock, sort of a cleaned up Atomic Bitchwax.
Then I was surprised by the second cut, "Night Fright". It's a slower, plodding riff, reminiscent of Heart's "Devil Delight", only with the Sabbath treatment. About halfway through, a sharp double lead occurs, also a Sabbath trademark. Towards the end of the song, the song drops to a quiet simmer, accenting Lene's voice over a bass line. Then the obligatory fast ending closes out the song. I'm liking this so far.
Next up is "The Killer", which lacks polish, but rocks mightily. This one could be a big hit with some promotion…think 70's Purple with Astbury on vocals. Excellent lead, short like Ace Frehley…also portending a "hit single" is the change of key 30 seconds from the end and the catchy chorus.
"Strange Day" is Iron Maiden with an accessible hook. The bass tuning here is excellent. There's also a rubber band-like sound throughout that's kind of cool. After the lead, there's a nice second break that gives the song a bit of variety.
"Desire" is a groover, in a higher key than the other songs. Not bad, but gets stale about halfway through. Has a bit of acid rock in it.
Like "The Killer", the title cut "Smokerings" could be a hit. The guitar tone in the chorus is outstanding - reminds me of the Doors or Jefferson Airplane but more rocked out.
Just so you don't think the stoner rock label is totally false, "Mysterious Thoughts" reels you in. Both the lead and the backing riff channels Jimmy Page, and the whole song is pure Zeppelin.
The first two minutes of "Sickness" plods along, then morphs into a rocker. The next to the last track is "Who Sees You?", which may be my favorite tune on here. A slow blues number, it breaks no new ground, but has a lot of power and punch.
"Over The Mountain" is a GREAT closing song. Straight ahead bass, with alternating guitar leads. Gets the blood moving, play this one with the windows down!
The only drawback is that the production seems to be lacking. There's a fading in and out, which may be the copy I have, so don't take my word on that point.
This band may find it difficult to separate itself from the pack, given the sheer number of bands covering this ground. But if they seize on their opportunities, and take advantage of their singer and musicianship, and shed the stoner label, they can go places. I checked out a You Tube video or two and they rock the house…but the house needs to be bigger.
- Rick (and roll) Dashiell
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