Monday, 30 September 2013

Sasquatch - IV (album review)

Cover artwork by Vladislav Ociacia.
A friend of a friend once saw a Sasquatch.  He was walking through a trail in the woods up north.  He felt the presence of ... something burning into the back of his neck.  It was an uncomfortable feeling, like being followed in a sinister funhouse.  He wheeled around quickly, but, as these things go, he saw nothing.  And then the odor struck him.  Pungent, musky odor washed over his immediate area like a fog bank, clouding his senses and choking him.  He fought for breath, but the aroma was so strong his body just said 'no'.  This friend of a friend said that the stench was like a chode that hadn't been washed in months and thrust boldly in the face.  A few moments later he came face to face with the great, shaggy beast.  A single moment after that the guy ran.  I'm writing from the north.  This is wild country, where beer, rain and flannel intermingle with the seemingly endless expanse of evergreen forest to forge a unique identity.  This is Sasquatch country.  Many a flannel-draped, hunting-cap donning beer drinking cryptid hunter has set off into the wild and returned with nothing.  The legend of the Sasquatch can fascinate the most practical-minded and enthrall the drunkest of men.  The reality of the Sasquatch can turn the stoutest of stomachs.  Somewhere in the middle we find Sasquatch, the band.

Fully embracing their namesake, Sasquatch keeps it muscular, fuzzy and pungent.  It's a lean sound on 'IV', but it's not without some girth.  This 'lean' sound may have to do with the surprisingly thin production of the record.  But looking past that, the album churns with riffs, hooks and crashing cymbals always simmering nicely, but never quite coming to a boil with a true standout track to serve as a jewel in the crown of the album.

That said, there are no duds on this thing.  Not one.  Each track stands on its own, propelled by the forceful and energetic vocal delivery of Keith Gibbs with no small measure of help from drummer Rick Ferrante who really shines through with track after track of just right percussion, "Money" being the strongest example of this.  But of course, a good drummer can't save an album with no riffs.  "The Message", "Smoke Signal", "Wolves At My Door" and "Me and You" all stand shoulder to shoulder with each other in terms of good, tough sounding riffs (with no small measure of girth), but as I said, we never reach that point on the record where one can truly be said to lose his or her shit.

Does it matter that the record never reaches its crescendo?  Not really, because if nothing else it's an enjoyable record from "The Message" to "Drawing Flies".  You see, I don't fall into that trap that most cryptid hunters do.  I'm not out in the woods hunting for the smoking gun, the "big proof", because I can see the evidence all around me.  I don't need a Sasquatch carcass because I've got the footprints over here and right over there.  Sasquatch leaves its share of giant foot prints with this album.  'IV' and its constituent tracks will most likely see a lot of airtime at Casa de Paranoia.

Sasquatch speaks the stoner tongue fluently.  'IV' embodies most of those elements which dragged me into the stoner rock pit in the first place: high energy, big riffs, crash heavy drums with plenty of propulsion, confident melodic vocals and of course, da fuzz.  From a label renowned for the high standard of its output, 'IV' does nothing to tarnish the legacy.  I walked into this party when Small Stone released Nightstalker's 'Dead Rock Commandos' and it's been one great release after another.  'IV' simply continues the tradition.  Make a plaster mold of this album and display it proudly in Scott Hamilton's museum of strange and fuzzy creatures.

Highlights include: "The Message" and "Smoke Signal".

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 43:42

Keith Gibbs: guitar, vox
Rick Ferrante: drums, percussion
Jason Casanova: bass, filing, red tape

Guest vocals on "Smoke Signal" courtesy of Gaff.

From: Los Angeles, California

Genre: Stoner

Reminds me of: Gozu

Release Date: September 24, 2013

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