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Burning with the Greek stoner gods - 87%

Xyston, July 14th, 2010

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.