Review Summary: Worship the shrine of the mightiest metal supergroup on the planet.
Remember being in a room full of your friends, jamming cover-tunes that sounded like crap, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol and smoking the reefer? Remember how you thought you sounded great, finally coming to at some point in the night and realizing you were all out of tune and some of you weren’t even playing the same song together? Those were good times and reflecting back on these nostalgic moments can put a smile on your face at the worst of times. Imagine if you all became better musicians sometime down the road, learning to be a well disciplined unit and producing some of the most forward thinking metal in existence? Let’s examine Shrinebuilder; a supergroup that I feel comes from these circumstances minus the initial “sucking phase”; a jam band of sorts who seem extremely comfortable creating music of this calibre. Also noteworthy is that the band is comprised of members from Om, Neurosis, Melvins, and Saint Vitus, coming from backgrounds that relate to all things leading edge about sludge, doom, and post metal. Did you dirty your pants a bit? I can wait for you to go get cleaned up so you can read the rest of this review...
Forming in 2006, it was the idea of Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich (Saint Vitus) and Al Cisneros (Om, Sleep) who thought it would be interesting to form a collaboration with a few of their industry buddies. Enlisting Scott Kelly (Neurosis, Tribes of Neurot) and latter, Dale Crover (Melvins), who would replace Chris Hakius (Sleep) after he decided to retire from music, would prove to be the icing on the cake for this monster group. It wasn’t until 2008 that the group would finally stop procrastinating and start recording after much anticipation from fans of their full-time bands. Going back to my initial point at the top, this record feels like and represents those days of getting together with old friends and jamming out songs while partying it up. Want proof of why this album feels that way? It was written through these processes of making music with friends over the course of a few sessions and latter, recorded in a mere three days. The only thing that fails to meet my above nostalgic moments is that this doesn’t sound like a bunch of noise caught on tape, this sounds like a stoner metal album that will make your ears smoke.
The overall feel of this album can be summed up by saying that someone forgot to tell the producer to stop smoking spliffs in the recording room because there is a thick haze that looms around every corner of this album. Found in this thick fog of Mary Jane are fives tracks, designed to beat you over the head with a psychedelic trance, leaving you burnt out and asking for another hit of the sweet cheeba. Pot puns aside, anyone interested in Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard needs to listen up good. Every song seems to find itself building upon old-school Tony Iommi riffs and that perfect Dopethrone
buzz, expanding on the parameters of what stoner metal typically sounds like and throwing in a superb dose of magnanimous song structures that are as ambitious as they are trance inducing. “Pyramid of The Moon” and “Blind for All to See” showcase a band that is comfortable with its dynamics. Whether they are the collective interests of the members full-time bands or simply the outside influences being taken into account, this is a mosaic (not a melting pot) of music that could only be done through the ears of four wise-men whose musical maturity is at it’s peak.
Even though song lengths can give an indication of how an album should be listened to, you could go into this album and listen to it as a whole or give each track it’s own individual attention. What you will find is that each song is quite different from one another; not so much in the sense that the tones of the songs themselves are different, but how each song offers a unique twist on the stoner metal genre. While three of the four members all share vocal responsibilities, which are all memorable performances to say the least, it’s the little subtle details that jump out at you with each careful listen. Saving the best song for last, “Science of Anger” is the best example of this featuring all three vocal styles, mountain-moving riffs, serpent-like solos noodling and increasing in intensity through each measure and catchy-as-*** bass lines that seem to have a mind of their own, yet somehow keep the song grounded in a nice head-bob.
If there’s one thing to say about this album, it’s that I dare any other supergroup in the history of supergroups to sound this natural and come up with something truly original rather than shoving all of their full-time bands into one giant collective (Cream is the only one I can truly say who has accomplished this to date). So while you’re all jamming out in your parents garage, getting ***ed up and accomplishing what would amount to the sounds of spazoid child obnoxiously clanging every instrument at the same time, just realize that the bar has been set high for jam bands.