Review Summary: ...
The stoner genre is an easy trap for lovers of fat, fuzzy riffs and dirty grooves. These factors, combined with the uncompromising attitude towards the mainstream, as the genre was always too heavy for the radio, become the "door" through which one can endlessly delve into the myriad of choices it brings. Whether is doom, psychedelic or old school, rock 'n' roll tinged stoner, it can easily capture those who venture in its realms.
As another band rises, this time with a classic doom stoner vibe, Ã* la Saint Vitus, Trouble or Sleep, mixing slow, scorching riffs with more engaging ones to avoid redundancy, the potential listeners rapidly turn their ears in the respective direction. This is the case of YIDHRa, a Los Angeles-based group, who have just released their debut, Hexed
. Their own take on the genre is at times inevitably familiar, but deliver a solid punch through their attitude, monolithic riffs and a powerful voice to lead the music.
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft imagery and mythos, YIDHRa have built a haunting, 65 minute onslaught. A truly dense journey, Hexed
starts strong with 'Witch Queen' and 'Oath Breaker'. The former, whose barely crawling riffs often turn into pile-driving stoner, while the title itself reveals the true meaning of the band's name, gives an excellent example of record's atmosphere. The latter continues with some dry, avalanching riffs, also adding a prophetic, spoken word breakdown towards the end to boost the overall nihilistic vibe. At various points, Dave's vocals evoke a gruff version of Phil Anselmo, but with such bulldozer riffs, they are a welcomed addition. Other highlights include the muddy grooves of 'Blood Is The Harvest', one of the most straightforward numbers here or 'Conquest For Nova', whose pace gradually drops with each minute, before a cool, guitar solo restarts it midway. Meanwhile, the moody closer, 'Dagon', tones things down with a clean mid-section, where echoed lap steels add more to the uneasy atmosphere the whole record bears.
In this genre, leaving records at a shorter length often keeps them essential and adds to the replay value. While Hexed
is indeed a good debut, it loses momentum towards the end. The band tries to diversify things a bit by adding some theremin into the mix, however, there are songs that recycle overused ideas. For example, 'Raven's Flight' should be the centerpiece, but the main groove has been used a hundred times since Black Sabbath brought it into this world. Luckily, it's saved by the interesting, progressive latter half. Other tracks (like "The Lament Of Longinus") feel cut from the same chunk without having many hooks to differentiate themselves from their counterparts. If trimmed, the effort would've been more effective. Still, Hexed
is all about finding a place in the fold for YIDHRa and its minor issues are something every band should pass through for improvement. From now on comes the complicated process of differentiation and innovation the band must embark on to stand out.