Monday, 22 April 2013

Half Gramme of Soma - ST (album review)

Cover Artwork by Dimitris Kazakos.
Greece is another of those places that seem to have been sprinkled with magic stoner dust at some point and just births terrific bands like a queen bee.

Half Gramme of Soma sprang from the Mediterranean hive in early 2011 and after adding vocalist Andreas have unleashed their stinging debut album.  They did well to find him.  A confident and forceful vocal delivery goes along way to hype up a song.  Andreas provides the band with a sparkplug on opening track "Burn Your Shadows" to help drive an urgent riff to put smiles on faces and make heads bob.  But really, the song is a bit of a misfit within the rest of the album.  A straight-forward rock song that does nothing to signal the coming madness found on most of the rest of the record.

The first hints of this psychedelic stoner madness rears it's heavy-lidded, bloodshot and grinning head on second track "Bipolar".  Twin guitars focus on swirling and swelling pangs of wah induced confusion.  On first listen, I was surprised at just how much of the rest of the disc was composed of these understated moments of contemplative psychedelic riffing, because the opening track gives little clue of what's to come.  But by the end of the affair, you realize that most of the album is like this and that this is what comprises the bulk of their sound: blues riffs that have just had their minds blown and have become forever lost in a catatonic murmur of wah.

"Secret of the Fox" takes this tendency to a summit of desert butte-y.  A star-speckled sky overhead, the stinging breeze of sand and psychedelics in the system, this song just may be the band's crowning achievement.  "Push Me Around" is a builder.  Goblin riffs and trollish tempos build a rocket powered speed demon, taking off about half way through the track into unexplored territory.  The next two tracks kind of split up the two parts of "Push Me Around", expanding upon their established sound and taking it to even bigger, better and more mind-expanding territory.

Aldous Huxley never intended Soma, his happy-pill from Brave New World, to be so mind-expanding but these five Greeks sure do and pull it off, and at only half a dose.

On a side note, the physical 'Half Gramme of Soma' CD is an impressive package.  Custom Printed in silver and black by Fuzz Ink, the cover image is enough to make a sober man question the basic foundation of reality.  You can stare at it for hours and it only reveals more secrets.  The inside is just as trippy with a spore cloud of cosmic babies and a die-cut eye, the CD slip is cut into the shape of an eye with the actual CD providing the "eyeball".  Anyway, all that stuff is peripheral to the music really.  Is it a great album?  Yeah!  Should you get it?  Yeah, I'd say so.  Will you?  Not on my say so alone!  So go ahead and listen on the player below and be sure to listen past the first song, because as I said, even though it's a good one, it's not really representative of the rest of the album.

Highlights include: "Secret of the Fox" and "Dead End"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 43:20

Andreas S. : vocals
Alexandros K. : guitars
Takis A. : guitars
Jim P. : bass guitar
Uncle Jim : drums

From: Athens, Greece

Genre: Stoner, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Cube, Dala Sun, Enos, I Saw The Deep, The Routes

Release Date: January 8, 2013

Suggested NON-listening activity for fellow non-stoners: The desert savage in you wanders into the big city and is found to be a curiosity, only to end up hanging itself due to lack of soma.

Better Reviews:
Heavy Planet
Dr. Doom's Lair
Phantasmagoria in Greek

Half Gramme of Soma facebook

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