Monday, March 18, 2013

Bacchus Baracus - Tales Of Worries, Woes & Whatever (2013)

Scotland's Bacchus Baracus don't pull any punches. They aren't in the business of hiding who they are, what they love, and what they do. Their own bio reminds us that they were formed in 2010, thanks to a "mutual love of beer, joints, whiskey, fuzz pedals and all that's groovy and down tuned." It makes sense, then, that this stoner rock four piece from Glasgow take you on a hazy ride that seems to bend space and time in the process. And whether or not you choose to supplement your journey with a beverage or herbal remedy, you are sure to be swimming by the time the 46 minute mark hits. Because while stoner rock may be their genre of choice, there is a whole lot more on display. "Tales Of Worries, Woes & Whatever" is one hell of a story with a soundtrack that might leave you with a hangover tomorrow. Sit down, buckle up, and be prepared to go the distance if you want to earn the ultimate reward.

With a fast paced, punk fueled energy, "Yo Wanna Deal" is the ideal album opener.What the band misses with intricacy they more than make up with raw, rock and roll riffs. Frontman Quzzy lays down a raspy vocal line throughout, bringing to mind the heyday of the American punk scene of the 1980's. The grit and hazy tone of the guitars sets this apart from days of old, clinging to the modern stoner movement by a thread. "Memo," on the other hand, is a stoner rock anthem for the new millennium. There is a massive groove attached here, one that would make the most addicted Rock Band or Guitar Hero fanatic grin with delight. More than that, though, is the cohesion between guitar, bass and drums; a lock-step attack that hammers home every string, every chord, and every pounding drum snap. As the opening riff of "Man Of The North" comes into play, you are now witnessing the third track, with the third style change. This is a distorted stomp at its core, with a screaming vocal leading the way. But it is the in between moments that ring true most often; an effects tinged bit of guitar work tying together verse and chorus. It displays a grasp of subtlety that you might have otherwise feared absent. Yet in the same breath, they can deliver the polish free punch in the face known as "Mammoth." Reminiscent of the tongue in cheek work of Devin Townsend, but with a grimier twist, this may prove to be the track that stays embedded in your head longest, even if it isn't the best track on the album. Drummer Duggy earns his stripes here, laying down a blistering combination of snares, toms, kicks and cymbals.

As the pace slows for "Love Is A Prison," you find a different dynamic entirely. The murky aesthetic created here takes you down a dark, fuzzy side road to the main highway of the album. Though the run time seems like a giant leap from the three minute tracks you heard before, it is padded out by two minutes or so of blaring feedback and squealing distortion. For better or worse, it serves as an outro, as well as an intro to "No Name." Much like the aforementioned "Memo," there is a strong stoner tone here, thanks largely to the main guitar groove and the way it plays so nicely with the melody free vocals. This is the band at their most pure simplicity, which falls right into their wheelhouse. You won't find any wild solo work here, nor will you care. This is straight ahead full, with a puff of smoke to boot. Venturing into the doom side of the genre is "Fuck Knows Man," a down tempo, almost plodding groove fest. Without ever hearing the song, you could probably formulate what it might sound like, based solely on their work to this point. And predictable as it may be, it manages to be entertaining as well. And then there is "Sweet Smell," a three minute song expanded to over 14 minutes with the help of wild instrumentation, electronic effects, and a whole lot of imagination. Easily the most impressive instrumental work on the album, this is a victory in and of itself.

The four piece known as Bacchus Baracus could become a cautionary tale for future generations of music fans. The old adage that patience is a virtue has never been more identifiable than here, on this eight track identity crisis known as "Tales Of Worries, Woes & Whatever." As each track passes, you think you have it all figured out, and you might as well just stop right there and move on to the next album burning a hole in your hard drive. Then the sound changes. And again. And again. Eight songs, connected only by the most minute grungy undertones, that bare little resemblance to one another. And yet, at the same time, the flow from one end of the album to the next makes all the sense in the world. Once you convince yourself to sit back and just ride along, an interesting world of styles and tempos awaits you, culminating in a psychedelic acid trip of a finale. And to think, YOU thought this was a one trick pony, and YOU wanted to go listen to power metal. Good thing you stuck it out.


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