Wednesday, 6 March 2013

March The Desert - ST (album review)

A vulture stands alert as a sentinel atop a rocky outcrop.  The sky behind the carrion buzzard bleeds through with water colors.  Not the warm colors one might expect to find in a desert scene mind you, these are the cool colors of the arctic.  Right off the bat March The Desert boot down the doors of perception and beg questions of their intentions.  Any questions about what this band is about are answered about a second into album opener "March".  This is no accident.  The two tracks that bookend this album are called "March" and "The Desert" respectively.  These are representative songs, ultimate statements at this early stage of the band's history.

The fuzzbox is the perfect musical representation of the desert.  It's sizzling and prickly sound evokes images of the searing heat and cacti found therein.  But there's a cool dampness to the affair that's difficult to put a finger on.  The band moves equally through arid music and swamp sounds.  Fuzz explodes from each second of 'March The Desert' like clouds of spores from some deadly Lovecraftian fungus trampled under heavy boot.  Songs are linked by feedback and ringing or droning noises to create a run on effect from track to track as though there's no stopping the fuzz monster created by the band.  It just keeps going, destroying all in its path, making for a solid listen from beginning to end.

The recording, mixing and mastering on the disc itself is on the dirty side of the ledger, giving the entire affair a loose if not sloppy feeling which perfectly suits the music and the guitar sound.  This isn't sludge in the strictest definition of the term, but lovers of the filth will find a new favorite stoner band in March The Desert.

In many ways this is not your typical stoner album.  It hits on many of the traditional staples of the genre and its associated subcategories, but it does them in a much different way.  The album cover is a good indicator of this, the desert scene in cool colors is a strong visual representation of the band's musical approach.  They take what's familiar and spin it in their own direction.  Where one might expect sweat-stained psychedelic flights of desert rock, March The Desert delivers walls of sludgy sound.  Where one might expect funky Brant Bjork style crash heavy grooves March The Desert delivers doomy open spaces and the odd (tastefully used) double kick.

Ascending fuzz riffs, a lo-fi greaseball recording and the often strained vocal talents of Sam Grange bring immediate comparisons of Blue Cheer to mind, especially during the freewheeling moments when the band cuts loose.  Slow doom is balanced by aggressive tendencies and the constant threat of the band taking flight.  March The Desert find a home near to the border of extreme metal in "Statues of Innocence" as they straddle the line between doom and speed metal with equal aplomb.  Sounds like a ridiculous if not impossible task but these upstarts pull the deed off in rather Sleep-like fashion.

March The Desert manage to craft an identifiable sound helped on this album, once again by its lo-fi production values.  The sound of the desert at dusk.  On these six tracks they use doom as a launching pad to blast into stratospheres of fuzz rock.

Highlights include: "Blind" and "Mizar"

Rating: 3.5/5

Total Run Time: 34:36

Sam Grange - Vocals, Lyrics
James Thorne - Guitar, Music
Alastair Train - Bass
Hugh Gascoine - Drums

From: Brighton, East Sussex, UK

Genre: Stoner, Doom, Fuzz Rock, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Blue Cheer, Green Shade, Sleep, Spacefog

Release Date: January 12, 2013

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Slap a wig on a cactus and make sweet love to it.

Better Review:
Two Guys Metal Reviews
When Planets Collide
Underground Reviews

March The Desert facebook

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