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Creature With the Atom Brain - "Transylvania" (CD)

Creature With the Atom Brain - "Transylvania" CD cover image

"Transylvania" track listing:

1. I Rise The Moon
2. The Color Of Sundown
3. Something Is Wrong
4. Transylvania
5. Lonely Light (featuring Mark Lanegan)
6. Spinnin' The Black Hole
7. Darker Than A Dungeon
8. Sound Of Confusion
9. Make Noise
10. The Lonesome Whistle
11. Is That Lady Sniff? (Radio Edit)

Reviewed by on March 7, 2010

"Basically, this album consists of hazy stoner rock so good you'll get a contact high if you stand too close to your speakers."

Strictly speaking, I'm not sure Creature With the Atom Brain's "Transylvania" qualifies as a "metal" album. That said, it definitely swims in the same psychedelic whirlpool that helped to shape early acts like Zeppelin and Sabbath, and is a fun, trippy listen for those looking for a break from the mosh pit.

The Belgian band's press materials for the record make the comparison to The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Queens Of The Stone Age, and it's a reasonable one — especially since Queens Of The Stone Age producer Chris Goss mixed the album. Basically, this album consists of hazy stoner rock so good you'll get a contact high if you stand too close to your speakers.

"I Rise The Moon" starts things off with a slightly creepy vibe, before settling into a riff that straddles the line between droning and pop bounce. Aldo Struyf's wispy vocals rise above the simple riffing that ever-so-briefly gets heavy, thanks to Struyf and Michiel Van Cleuvenbergen's guitars fuzzing up into Wolfmother mode.

"The Color Of Sundown" is a clean rocker with excellent vocal harmonies. Drummer Dave Schroyen keeps things bouncy and the lead guitar line snakes in and out around the rest of the instruments in intriguing ways.

There's plenty that goes right in "Something Is Wrong," including the greasy slide guitar that opens it. The guitar solos, though somewhat simple, have an appealing rawness that cuts right through the rest of the music.

The title track, "Transylvania" opens with Schroyen seemingly paying tribute to Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, with a part that feels reminiscent of that band's "Sympathy For The Devil." Before long, he's joined by Jan Wygers, whose bass line propels the song. Sure, it's the kind of song you'd see a hippie-chick in a tie-dyed dress doing the "swirling, whirling" dance to at a concert, but it rocks nonetheless.

"Lonely Light" features Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan and is easily the heaviest track on the album. Sure, it mellows a bit in the verses, but it's a nice reminder of the grunge era.

If you're looking for the hookiest, catchiest number, it's likely "Spinnin' The Black Hole," which contains fascinating bursts of electric fuzz guitar amid the almost Beatle-esque vocals. The album's least accessible song, "Darker Than A Dungeon" follows that one up, with a quiet beginning that turns into something reminiscent of Wolfmother at the end, with some superb vocal harmonies.

If you like your rawk thick and sludgy, "Make Noise" is a good one for you. It reminds me a bit of Alice in Chains — who Creature With the Atom Brain has toured with. "The Lonesome Whistle" goes on a bit too long, but does have some moments that made me sit up and listen. The largely acoustic "Is That Lady Sniff? (Radio Edit)" closes out the album in true '60s rock style.

This was a fun album for me to listen to and get into a mellow mood. Creature With the Atom Brain's "Transylvania" isn't really a metal album, but if you're looking to chill out after having trashed your living room to the sounds of Slayer, you could do much worse.

Highs: "Transylvania," "Spinnin' The Black Hole" and "Is That Lady Sniff? (Radio Edit)."

Lows: "The Lonesome Whistle" is a bit too long.

Bottom line: A fun, mellow psychedelic rock record that's good to chill out to after moshing the day away.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)