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With their second full-length release "Just a Burn", the Greek stoner veterans of Nightstalker manage to deliver a very consistent collection of songs which, while lacking in the innovation department, are certainly of high-grade quality and contain some of the key elements of any great stoner rock/metal album - HEAVY, memorable riffs, spacey atmospheric sections, rumbling bass, and an overall groove (not in a Pantera way) that just pulls all the instruments together, ensuring in the process that each song is imbued with that hazy goodness impossible to find outside of the stoner realm.
The album starts off with "All Around (Satanic Drugs From Outer Space)", a rebellious, mid-paced anthem with lyrics describing an intense hallucinogenic trip. Though the main riff to the song is pretty straigthforward, it is very catchy, and this can be said throughout most of the album. The guitarist proves his competency through his ability to compose riffs that are both heavy and melodic, influenced primarily by genre-founders Kyuss and, of course, Black Sabbath, maybe with a bit of Motorhead in the mix as well. His solos are also great, demonstrating his skill as a lead guitarist who can keep up the heaviness of the band on his own. The next song, “Just a Burn”, follows in a similar vein, and “Don’t Blow My High” is quite interesting, alternating between light, spacey verses and heavy choruses. Despite the singer’s Greek accent, he is understandeable and manages to pull off some great vocal lines, fulfilling his duty as his voice excellently accompanies the music as a whole.
Some may find it surprising to learn that the bassist in Nightstalker is also in the fellow Greek band Rotting Christ, and his proficiency can definitely be heard on “Just a Burn”. Though the bass tends to follow the guitar in the first few songs, it is constantly audible and one can follow it easily for the duration of the album. “Voodoo U Do” showcases his talent in the ending rock-out section, as some creative bass lines and a spacey solo are paired. Of all the instruments, only the drums stand out for being a bit too simple or boring, and feel somewhat mechanical, like when the simple, repetitive beat of “Line” is executed. However, this is a minor hindrance to the album as a whole, as the drummer is still competent and capable of throwing in some nice fills and patterns to keep the overall sound tight. Though Nightstalker maintain a high level of heaviness for the majority of the album, they keep the stoner tradition by including a couple quiet, atmospheric songs, “Explode” and “Shadows”. The latter contains no heavy sections at all and seems like the band’s own “Planet Caravan”, creating a truly dreamy, psychedelic atmosphere which actually benefits from some trippy noises reminiscent of FX from Sabbath’s Vol. 4. A perfect song to conclude the album.
Of course, it is necessary for me to address an aspect of this album that might bother some, and this is that Nightstalker doesn’t seem to create anything new or innovative for the genre of stoner rock/metal. Everything about the album, like the slow to mid-paced tempos, groovy rhythms laced with heavy riffs, and apathetic lyrics touching on rebellion and personal conflicts can already be found in other areas of stoner rock/metal.
Ultimately, though, this really doesn’t matter here. Listening to Nightstalker, one gets a clear sense of what the band is going for, and that is the making of consistent, satisfying, and memorable stoner rock/metal that one can listen to time after time and never cease to enjoy thoroughly. Nightstalker isn’t concerned about pioneering anything, since they just look at themselves as a good old, dirty rock ‘n’ roll band – in a stoner way. So if you’re a fan of the genre, don’t hesitate to give this underground Greek band a listen; chances are there’s much for you to enjoy here.
Do you like bands such as Monster Magnet or Kyuss? Then you will surely love Nightstalker. They have combined perfectly Sabbath and hard rock riffs with the psychedelia/space rock of Hawkwind. Their lyrics are about drugs, every-day life and personal problems focusing on the "wild side" of life. This albums lacks nothing (although recorded by an underground group): the production is far from bad, the songwriting is full of good ideas, the chemistry between the musicians ideal.
Although Argy's voice has not the vocal range of other metal or rock singers, it fits perfectly the band's style with his drug-affected and wild singing. The guitarist is technically more talented than many other "guitar gods" of well-known bands, though he has no personal style.
If someone wants to find something really negative to accuse them, he can claim that they have added nothing new to the metal/hard rock tradition, in comparison to pioneers of stoner rock/metal such as Kyuss or Electric Wizard, bands who did what they did for the first time in history. But progress is not the real intention of Nightstalker. They just love the old good rock/metal sound and they enjoy the "sex, drugs & rock 'n' roll" way of living, suffering also the unpleasant consequences of drug addiction and isolation. That's what they try to tell with their releases.
However, if you ask them, they donnot call themselves a stoner rock group, but just a rock group generally. They have half wrong, since their music can only be described by the term "stoner", but they have also have half right, since if you are a bit more attentive you can understand that their influences donnot stop with stoner bands. Their music is a blend of the main ideas of the past that defined what we call pure, dirty and tough rock.
How could I describe Nightstalker music if I only had four words? DIRTY, TRIPPY, DYNAMIC and MID-TEMPO. Does it remind you of Kyuss? Yes!