The RMR crew is a weird bunch. Instead of going for the easy, high-rolling stars of the rock and metal world that would net us gazillions of clicks and wild riches, we often pick bands with no name and even weirder styles.
That trait saddles us with pretty pig-headed adepts of the underground and no social recognition to speak of. Yet again, these records often contain that fresh material, still untainted by the greedy little hands of big labels. And that’s often more alluring at the RMR office tower than honey is to bees.
Gently humming bumblebees on colorful flowers or voracious multi-legged monsters on the prowl in dark corners? Lucid Grave are ready to answer to the challenge. But are you?
One thing is certain. The Danes’ debut album Cosmic Mountain is all of the above. Pig-headed, fresh, and – for sure – untainted; and then some. The record rolls in on a mighty wave of Psychedelic Rock, a cartload of doom-laden stoner delights, and some pretty wild excursions into whatever punk still has in store. And it often has trouble to decide which way to lean.
Once Cosmic Mountain – the title track – starts on pole position, you’ll feel that wave of proto-doom wash over you. Not least brought about by Malene‘s somewhat monotonous vocals that roar forth like a doe in heat. And there’s the rub. These types of vocals landed other bands of that ilk in hot water already, and they’re for sure not working in Lucid Grave‘s favor, either. And I doubt that slamming a difficult-to-stomach track full of repetitions and a generally disjointed, noisy delivery helter-skelter onto a disk will really enlarge their fanbase at a fast pace. Even a climber of a cosmic mountain has limits of endurance. Just sayin’.
But it would be unfair to reduce the record to just this one track. The piece gains in accessibility further down the tracklist (I am Still High, for instance). Doom remains an important part of their offering for sure, yet the band truly finds solace in the sounds and flavors of the ’70s. You’ll get those typical psych waves that come with a ton of fuzz and the occasional incursion into wah-wah territory. At times, oldish stoner vibes kinda live in cahoots with some grimy Punk Rock (Old Spirit). To the point that the ghost of grunge slowly raises its cranky visage but never quite pops into the open.
The extensive and expert use of the bass is yet another quality aspect of Cosmic Mountain. If well used, the bass can be the weapon of choice to spice up an otherwise stale record. And here, Lucid Grave are right up with the masters. Unfortunately, the record treats the rest of the guitars somewhat with disdain, and that’s a pity. You do get some pockets of excellence, though. For example, the groove-laden Stay Away positively dazzled us with some choice cuts of bluesy psychedelic guitar prowess. Plus you’ll get the vocalist in full form in some expressive format. Looks like Blues Rock becomes her well.
In other words, the record gorges with variations of all sorts. Case in point, Curse of the Crow – the last in line – sets its course into funeral doom but then veers into something prog-like all over again. And that’s where Malene‘s delivery started to sound more and more like a subdued version of a younger Patti Smith.
So, circling back to the first track – Cosmic Mountain – it appears to me that the band is most at home in reasonably sized tracks that play to their often mid-tempo psych, punk, and stoner urges. Those are the songs that brought us groove and that age-old woozy rock energy galore. Sturdy material that made us want to turn the clock back to times long gone and indulge in those golden experiences when rock was still young. Thus, this 11+ minute monster at the top of the tracklist should have hit the waste bin at lightning speed. It would probably have worked wonders for overall quality – and the almighty rating. But now, it’s too late to change that.