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God Bless Stoner Rock - 93%

Twisted_Psychology, November 23rd, 2012

Originally published at http://suite101.com

As someone who is a big fan of the doom metal and stoner rock genres, I’ve recently noticed that there are an unusually good number of them in the Indianapolis area. The Gates of Slumber are easily the most recognized on an international basis but bands like Devil to Pay, Apostle of Solitude, and Bulletwolf are all pretty hard to ignore. Enter The Hedons, a self-proclaimed “astro doom” trio that has been gaining some attention since their formation in summer 2010. Originally formed from the remains of a band known as Necropharmacon, this six-song EP is their first release and serves as an interesting indication for what can be expected from them in the future.

When listening to this effort, the first thing worth noting is that its pacing is quite fast for an album firmly established in the stoner genre. That is not to say that it is borderline thrashy in a way that High on Fire might be, but rather that it just exercises some really driving tempos and punk influence for such a “slow” genre. In fact, the rocking atmosphere seems to put the band somewhere between Hawkwind and classic Motorhead. Of course, there are still some slower moments to be found on here. “Swimming the Witch” appears to be the token doom track on display and is one of the stronger tracks on here. In addition, some of the faster songs like the closing “Helluva Ride” bring about a few trippy segments in order to keep things differentiated.

As expected by the band’s setup as a trio, the instrumentation manages to be quite solid as the bass and guitar playing both manage to sound pretty distinct from one another. The vocals are probably the band’s most noteworthy feature as they opted for a multi-vocal approach in a way similar to Mastodon. But while the production leads to both voices being caked in distortion that brings to mind Electric Wizard, they’re still distinct as guitarist Jeff Kaleth has a higher pitch while bassist Ryan Strawsma shows off a huskier tone. It works quite well on here and leads one to hope that it will be used even more so on future efforts.

With there being six songs on here and a little more than twenty minutes to work with, it is pretty safe to say that this release doesn’t exactly waste any time and has some pretty well written tracks. There’s nothing too complex or challenging about the songwriting as the EP is meant to be a pretty direct affair. As previously expected, the sloth-like “Swimming The Witch” is the most unique track on here and thrives on a feel similar to that of Sleep. In addition, “Big Bang” and “Helluva Ride” do an excellent job of bookending the release while “Intergalactic Prism” features a particularly catchy chorus. Like several other albums that I’ve reviewed this year, these tracks really do benefit from having a distinctly live feel.

But if there’s anything to really nitpick, it’s that this release could’ve benefitted from a bit more variety. One can certainly understand that this is merely a teaser for what the band will be doing in the future, but it feels a little short even by EP standards. Some of these songs probably could’ve been a little longer and it would’ve been great to see another slower track on here. But like the new Weedeater album, it also helps to leave the listener wanting more…

All in all, this is definitely a release that is highly recommended to fans of doom metal, stoner rock, and all the other genres that thrive on groovy riffs and slow rumbles. It might not be an essential purchase, but it is definitely worth checking out for anyone that enjoys the various bands that have come up over the course of this review. And if anything, this EP certainly succeeds in getting the listener excited for what this band may achieve in the future. Going by some of the newer songs that they’ve been playing at recent shows, their first full-length album should be a more extensive and equally awesome release.

Current Highlights:
“Big Bang”
“Swimming the Witch”
“Helluva Ride”