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Earthride - "Something Wicked" (CD)

Earthride - "Something Wicked" CD cover image

"Something Wicked" track listing:

1. Something Wicked
2. Hacksaw Eyeball
3. Make Up Your Mind
4. Destruction Song
5. Zodiad
6. Watch the Children Play
7. Grip the Wheel
8. Supernatural Illusion
9. Force Fed Fear

Reviewed by on November 3, 2010

"For those used to the aural assault of their first two albums, the tone is different, but should resound well with purist rock and rollers."

From all the press I had been reading about Earthride's new album "Something Wicked," I was prepared for a release that was pretty much consistent with their material to date. For the uninitiated, Earthride have an immense cult following in the doom metal scene with their slow, heavy, riff-centered tunes that take you back to basics. After listening to "Something Wicked" numerous times now, my impression is that it is a bit different from what they have put out before. This is definitely the rocking groove of these stoner metal icons, but with a more retro rock 'n' roll feel.

The album starts off with the title track slamming down nice, slow and sludgy guitar riffs that are impossible not to jam to. "Hacksaw Eyeball" kicks feedback and even slower guitar chords into a track with an ominous feel. The more you listen to them, the more one feels like the band members have had their share of hard living and like to unwind into the stoner land of no pain. In "Supernatural Illusion," vocalist Dave Sherman shares co-billing with none other than Wino. The two came together again after their days together in Spirit Caravan for this nicely-done cameo. 70's style rock is exuded in "Make Up Your Mind," with the interplay of chanted choruses evoking a distinct hippie feel. Much of this release sounds like echoes of Hawkwind or Judas Priest circa the "Delivering the Goods" era. Kyle Van Steinburg is one accomplished guitarist, providing the backbone for all the songs whether lead or rhythm, sounding remarkably like Tony Iommi back in the day.

Unlike their last album, though, "Something Wicked" has a seemingly mellower approach. The way some of the tracks are written is pure seventies jam style and not as much of a loud doom metal style they were synonymous with. "Destruction Song" echoes this with its breezy tempo and sing-song vocals. It's so retro that it feels like it came off a turntable. Sherman has that wounded growl of a voice similar to Lemmy, so this more sedated style does not work so well with the slower numbers like "Zodiac" or "Watch the Children Play." His trademark scratchy voice isn't really suited for melodic tracks and sounds strained and out of place.

There is also a lack of immediacy to this album, making it sound like a controlled implosion rather than the loud deadly riffing of their previous ventures. Their last album had Mike Dean (COC) at the helm, bringing out the most amplified qualities of the guitars and vocals possible, sounding like heavy farm equipment playing bumper cars. Earthride used Chris Kozlowski this time, who is renowned for working with such purist heavies as Pentagram, thus bringing a more conventional style to this album. The result are good; solid heavy rocking tunes like "Force Fed Fear" are technically adept on the one hand, but relinquish power on the other. This song has great time changes that keep you listening, but like with some of the other songs, I feel like they are holding back on all that energy they are known for delivering.

Earthride fans should nonetheless enjoy this outing on "Something Wicked," for this is a good rocking album with all sorts of moods going on. For those used to the aural assault of their first two albums, the tone is different, but should resound well with purist rock and rollers.

Highs: Accomplished guitar and rhythm that is straight out of the 70's.

Lows: Trademark loud and doom laden approach toned down this outing.

Bottom line: Will win over most Earthride fans with its unmitigated rock and roll feel.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

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)