Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Druglord - Enter Venus (EP) (2014)

We've all been implored at some point in our lives to stop and smell the roses. And while sticking your snout into a bundle of thorny flowers might not seem like something you are anxious to do, it is the sentiment behind the saying that is most important. Every now and then, you need to slow things down and take a minute to appreciate the other side of things. No, this isn't the beginning of a long winded yarn about loving life. Instead, it is a cry to all of us who spend too much time on the fast and the furious styles, and miss out on the other side of our beloved metal genre. Druglord, a three piece band from Richmond, Virginia, already won us over with their debut release in 2012. But what "Motherfucker Rising" best was remind us that simplicity in music can be refreshing, and that down tempo songs can be just as mesmerizing. With their sophomore album, a four track balloon ride titled "Enter Venus," they give you every reason, and every opportunity to slow down, and smell the fucking roses.

It's low and fuzzy, early and often on Grievous Heaving, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has been witness to this band in the past. But don't mistake that choice of words to mean mindless or inept. What you hear below the peeled back layers of distortion and rattling speaker cages is a down tempo groove and howl that brings to mind the early days of doom metal, before the posturing and preening rendered many artists incapable of basic structuring. Bass heavy, but not drowned in it, as is evident in the masterful solo in the latter stages of the track. Segments like the opening to Feast On The Eye are good uses of extended track times, the slow cascading of guitars and bass pouring from your speakers like molasses or maple sap from the north eastern United States. No rush to get from point A to point B; yet somehow, they never overstay their welcome on any individual track. Perhaps it comes down to the way the tracks are built. Here, you have a main guitar groove to build off of, but the airy, spacey vocals provide a respite from the lower register assault. It is a combination that may, on paper, not seem dynamic; but in reality, it hits just right.

But there is bound to be a track that stands out above the rest. However subjective it may be, the title track, Enter Venus, is as good as Druglord as ever sounded. The depth of sound they've found here is incredible, but it is the manner in which they deliver this piece that resonates long afterwards. Hazy distortion rings through, punctuated with minimal drum interjections. But unlike the other tracks on the album, this one features a show of restraint that elevates everything that much further. Sandwiched between smoky verse passages lies a quiet, cleanly played interlude that does wonders. That small bit of contrast goes a long way, highlighting another deftly played solo before the final countdown. If there is anything to note about Let Us Bleed, other than it's obvious placement as the closer to any set list, it is the noticeable strain that comes from the vocal track, something that might actually be a major plus. But while you are busy taking in all of the subtle nuances the song has to offer, the clock seems to be ticking rapidly away. Try as you might to slow down time to enjoy it longer, the end draws near far sooner than you would expect, hastened by great instrumental work on all fronts.

Some bands can pull off fuzzy and clouded. Others can't. Druglord falls squarely into the former, making it a trademark of sorts on their first two releases. While others bands, some who inhabit the same genre, strive for pitch correction, tuned perfection, and a myriad of digital "fixes" along the way, this three piece is giving you something different. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals, pieced together with bits of string and wire, yet holding stronger than any overtouched, big budget mix could ever hope to. They get their sound, their way, and hand it to you on a silver platter; or a green and milky white one, if you are vinyl inclined. In a way, this album is a throwback to a simpler time, when it was about the writing and the music, instead of the overdubs, drum loops, and studio wizardry. But I digress; "Enter Venus" is a mindtrip through and through, sometimes bending you just like a set of guitar strings under heavy fingers. If you have the ability to, for once, sit back and take it slow, this is an album that might strike a familiar chord.


Bandcamp - http://druglord.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Druglord/168553533162240

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