Woe, it’s a long time that the RMR crew didn’t come across a memorable Stoner record. One that makes you want to break out that weed and have at it. Or simply fire up yer blazing red Corvette and cruise down South along the Malibu coast. Until you turn left on Sunset to finally reach the Rainbow Bar & Grill for a bout of debauchery and – perhaps – some meet ‘n’ greet with some grizzled old rock singer.1)
Well, it ain’t the ’80s anymore for sure, and the originals are getting scarce out there. So, it’s great news that some young bands take up the flag and run with it.
The Norwegians from Suncraft just issued their debut full-length record Flat Earth Rider. And it indeed stopped us cold in our tracks and made us rewind what we just heard. Because – you see – Norway usually sports the Gaia folks and the virulent Black Metal extremists. Yet here, you get a bandwagon full of rusty rock ‘n’ roll that seems to blaze forth right out of another dimension.
And let’s get something out of the way first. RMR did not suddenly enter weirdo country and join some bizarre cult that worships alternate facts. Instead, the band’s theme actually tells a story of a confused flat earther on an errand.
Now, the relatively svelte airtime of some 37,5 minutes already conveys a message. We got ourselves a tightly written no-bullshit piece. One that hasn’t got the time nor the patience for fatty extravaganza, but will deliver red-hot rock straight from the start.
And truly so, it is that overheated and intense groove full of slightly sludgy fuzz that made us listen up. A tastily roasted and lightly doomy selection of rocky delights that could originate from long-gone times, but doesn’t. It is a modern concoction that often revels in Duplantier-esque shouted vocals2), sudden ambient injections, and riff constructs that may – just may – find some of their origins in things Black Sabbath once did.
As the lore goes, the band recorded the whole shebang in band mode with some solos added in later for sport. This results in enough filthy grime in the production to fill a city. But it’s that kind of grit that the RMR crew always looks for in Stoner pieces. Gets you that feeling of tumbleweeds on dusty highways, old creaky gas stations, and cold beer in stuffy saloons, ain’t it?
The outcome of all that goodness is indeed that heavy rock look-and-feel that hovers right at the edge where metal usually blazes away. Just fire up the title song, give it a spin or three, and you’ll see. The record itself boasts a toasty blend of pretty much everything rock has on offer. From hard, over bluesy and spacey with a Southern flavor, to truly heavy segments that bore down that road that the Flat Earth Rider seems to take on his (or her) quest.
And it’s indeed easy to get lost in the abundant fuzzy groove that comes with a super-tight songwriting style. One that’s sometimes almost too condensed for its own good. So much so, that you have trouble keeping track of all of those instruments and stuff going on.
Yet again, Suncraft here easily master epic tracks like Bridges to Nowhere. An 11-minute behemoth that finally leaves all those style injections and elements enough room to breathe. A track that delighted us with its muddy airs and an apparent doom flavor that sails pretty near the metal world we often crave over here. Oh, and let’s not forget that delicious piece of soloing that we’d like to taste live somewhere in one of them aforementioned saloons. So, there is hope on that horizon of theirs after all.
In many ways, Flat Earth Rider feels much like an EP that should show Suncraft at its very best behavior. All their considerable musical prowess neatly laid out for inspection. In other words, all that grit notwithstanding, the RMR deckhands sometimes missed that dirt. And – yes – some more aggression that would have added some much-needed spice. Like that squirt or five of hot runny-nose sauce that will do wonders to yer steamy pile of chicken wings. Get my drift?
Yet again, the band managed to condense all that youthful energy into a record that won’t make you yawn after a few minutes of noodling around. Instead, they’ll usurp your attention on an abundance of rusty amps3), red-hot old-style rock ‘n’ roll, and a guitar work awash with stellar riffs and solos. The somewhat gristly rough-hewn live sound that comes with all that jazz is just the icing on this particularly rocky cake.