Blind Dog - "The Last Adventures of Captain Dog" (Meteor City 2000, MCY-015)
Abdullah - "Abdullah" (Meteor City 2000, MCY-014)
From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)
The continuing efforts of the Meteor City folks in Albuquerque, NM are working to give more credence to the idea that the last decade's brand of heavy groove rock should be called 'desert rock' as opposed to the more ageocentric 'stoner rock.' Of course, the two bands considered here (Abdullah and Blind Dog) hail from Ohio and Sweden, respectively. Hardly amongst the more desiccated landscapes of the world. Sonically speaking though, the pair deliver enough decibels to effectively knock all the humidity out of the air in front of your JBLs.
Blind Dog's 'Last Adventures' kicks off with the loud and anxious "Thundergroove" (perhaps an even better name for the genre) with a peculiar drag-triplet trick thrown into the middle of the riff, and later a brief section at half-pace in order to reload. The trio of vocalist/bassist Tobias Nilsson, guitarist Joakim Thell, and drummer Thomas Elenvik hardly take a breath before then launching into "10,000 Reasons." Nilsson's voice is perhaps in need of a course in anger management, but thankfully he's not in the class of the death metal (what do they call it, Cookie Monster?) vocal style. And often times, such as on "Blend" and "Beyond My Reach," he delivers some of the vocals in a surprisingly warm and melodious fashion. On the latter, Thell adds a nice touch with his mouth organ (excuse me?), which sounds suspiciously like a harmonica. More melodiousness is to be found on the acoustic 6/8 sway-inducing ballad "When I'm Finally Gone," to be immediately countered by the heavy slow grunge of "Feels Like My Mind." The grunge picks up pace with "Wish I Knew Which Side I'm On," and then Blind Dog tries out a bit of a jazzier approach (as they say) with "Damned If I Should Care." Thell contributes several intertwining guitar lines employing various effects as an intro to a brief taste of Nilsson's voice, before the music segues directly into the opening of "Coming To," an exercise in maximum dynamical range. I really like this one…gurgly effects on the guitars and all. The cool psychedelic jam that is sandwiched between the Blackmore-like guitar riffs of "Back Where I've Always Been" works nicely as well. And the jam-out finale "Sun" is built upon the kind of 'circular,' driving fuzz-guitar riff that I like the best…great way to finish up! Well, ok, there's still the bonus track "Lose" from earlier in the band's history, tacking on a few minutes to already an hour's worth of quality stoner rock. Blind Dog are rowdy and quite often psychedelic just like their countrymen and labelmates Lowrider. Good riff-making, tight playing, variable pacing, and the right amount of heaviness make this one an even bet to please you when in the mood to 'vent.'
For more information you can email Blind Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact via snail mail c/o Tobias Nilsson; Osterdalsvagen 21; 302 65 Halmstead; Sweden.
Abdullah's self-titled debut commences with the excellent "The Path to Enlightenment," a seven-minute anthem with the usual quiet and 'jazzy' middle section. I'm immediately struck by the confident and attractive voice of drummer/songwriter Jeff Shirilla - similar qualities as to Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, yet different. Taken together, the following two (shorter) tracks "Conundrum" and "Earth's Answer" pretty much repeat the pattern of the opener, at least up until the finish of the latter where the trio breaks into a slow Iommi-esque trill-laden guitar overture. Throughout the disc, Alan Seibert's lead guitar work is appealing though his solos tend to be short, likely due to the lack of a second guitarist to carry along the rhythm (on stage at least). Continuing on, the demon-possessed yet slowdance-able "Visions of the Daughters of Time" brings us towards Seibert's subtle ballad "Lucifer in Starlight," which again shines because of Shirilla's lyrical words and voice. "Won't you join me in this abyss? Won't you join me in my anguish?" Such nice thoughts. The latter half of Abdullah's 68-minute CD suffers from a persistent dragging pace, that continually gives me the feeling that the batteries are wearing down (except that this is playing on the trusty old home system). "Awakening the Colossus" wants to be the song "Black Sabbath," but it turns out to be just long and rather boring. [But if you like (San Francisco's) Sleep…] This metronomic mode continues uninterrupted throughout the rest of the album, and my thumb turns from strongly upright to roughly neutral. (Though the more psychedelic "Journey to the Orange Island" would have worked nicely if surrounded by different stuff.) Mix it up a bit better boys. You've got a good sound, excellent voices (both lyrical and instrumental) - the broth just needs a little additional spice, or perhaps a jolt of caffeine. A quick note to commend the band on a very nice looking booklet with many interesting drawings and all the lyrics included.
For more information you can visit the Adbullah web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o Abdullah; PO Box 159; Richfield, OH 44286.
Of course, Meteor City is still at http://www.meteorcity.com, though the shop (All That's Heavy) now resides at http://www.stonerrock.com.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson