Review Summary: Death by repetition.
Bandcamp has been hailed by many as the best thing to happen to music for a long time. As a platform for small unsigned bands to show off their wares, it is unrivaled in accessibility - anyone with a computer can upload their music to be listened to by the audiophilic world from the comfort of their homes. The flipside of this, of course, is that as anybody can upload their music, everybody HAS, and this makes it very difficult for a band to stand out amongst the crowd. For Rodha, a German stoner metal band, this is made harder by the lack of discernible points of interest in their only EP to date, Raw.
Now, none of the songs here are actually bad. There are no cringe-inducing vocal performances, the riffs on show keep a constant drive in the music, and the drums don't sound like something from a 15 year old drum machine found in a skip. Take the opening track, Bliss. The intro is a phasing, moderately-paced number that sounds like it could have come from an early 70's psych-rock band, such as Atomic Rooster or Dust. This is accompanied by a straightforward 4/4 drum beat and vocals that wouldn't sound too out-of-place on a hardcore punk record if they were to be sped up. The lyrics aren't the best -
'NOW I KNOW … YOUR LIFE IS NOT FOR ME
NOW I GOT TO DECIDE … WHAT IS MY OWN REALITY'
- but for this style of music, thesaurus-like lexicons and Lovecraftian passages are not expected, and so is easily overlooked. Everything seems to be in place for a perfectly decent stoner metal album (minus a certain leafy narcotic). And that's the problem. Perfectly decent does not equal memorable.
Aside from the ever-so-slightly quicker Fast Forward, all of the songs here clock in at more or less the same tempo. This is a particularly damaging element, as due to the high levels of distortion on the guitars and never-changing note values being played (almost the entire album is constructed of fuzzed-out quaver notes in the low register), it gives a suffocating feel to the music, like being sealed in a thick blanket for 24 minutes. Although the riffs do have some interesting nuances in them, they simply do not change frequently or noticeably enough to make an impact over the running time, which is a shame given the obvious potential shown. The riff in 'Thousand Headed Goddess', for example, is actually very good; the problem is that it is that it is repeated for nearly 7 minutes with very little variation. The vocals do not change from their hoarse shouting norm throughout, aside from the odd moment where a spoken-word passage is used in a half-baked effort to shake the increasing sense of monotony. The outcome is that by the end of the EP, you feel as though you have just listened to almost the same song 5 times over, with no standout moments or hooks to get stuck in your head for the next few hours - just a noted feeling that everything's slightly blurrier than it was.
Committing the greatest killer in music, which is producing something instantly forgettable, means that this small, little-known group from Germany is likely to stay at just that. It's a shame really, given what could have been here, if only they had written a dozen or so more riffs and allowed the music opportunities to breathe throughout.
This was tough, as there's just not a lot to say about an album so... dull. Criticisms and praise (if you feel like it) welcome, as always
I wish bandcamp had a better discovery/browsing feature. Not really fair to all those unknown artists that will only be found by the dumb chance you find them in a botched site or google search.
Yeah, I know what you mean. The best way of finding them on Bandcamp is still to type in a genre and just randomly select things, which is what happens with a purely tag-based system. Particularly bad when an artist abuses the tag system and just puts all kinds of crap there too.
The first minute does sound very promising, as indeed does most of the first song. It just seems stuck sounding the same way through the entire EP to me, sadly. If you like it though, then at least I've brought it to someone's attention.
Hi Aaron and the Sputnik-crowd,
this is Flo from the band you just reviewed. I'd like to thank you to take the time to write about our first EP even though it obviously didn't hit your
nerve. Or did it? It seems to have triggered some emotions after all, right? ;)
Maybe a little insight about what 'Raw' was about: These songs were the very first recordings we did shortly after we formed. We never intended to
publish them rather than using it to apply for gigs. We put it on bandcamp just for practical reasons and never advertised it. Some review blogs
somehow got hold of it and many seemed to have liked it. For a couple of weeks we ever were in the Top-10 of metal downloads there. At least it
helped us getting gigs with Kylesa, Eyehategod, Kongh, Kadavar and several others. Was Raw a good recording? Not at all. It was rather a demo than
an EP. Did we shove it down people's throat on bandcamp or anywhere else? In the contrary. Were there many people liking it? Yup. Some.
I understand that you had little ambition to investigate a bit more in us after being so disappointed in what you heard. Infact we will release our first
full-length album this saturday (good timing, hm?). I invite you to have a listen at it and feel free to write another review about it:
Stream included: http://thesludgelord.blogspot.com/2014/09/rodha-welter-through-ashes-album-review.html (if it should be down, try our
bandcamp again in a few days)
Here's the thing, we do appreciate the time and effort of everyone putting their thought about our stuff on paper (or blogs). We even prefer honest
opinions over advertising like empty words. However, we like the whole picture rather than a 2+years old fragment from our early days ;)
Sorry you didn't like our songs. But thank you anyways for writing about it nevertheless.
Thank you for the taking the time to respond to this, and sorry I couldn't feel that I could be more positive! It would make sense that this was made shortly after you guys grouped together, and you've given me some valuable insight into how and why it was like it was.
I didn't realise you guys were still making music, let alone on the brink of releasing a full-length album! I shall give it a listen, and hopefully be able to write more good things about that.
Thanks for responding, and more importantly to me for not being pissed at my frankness!
All the best!
Hey, an artist coming here thanking the criticism? That's awesome, maybe I ought to check out/buy that album.
Aaron, thank you for taking on my comment as it was intended. I stumbled upon your review by chance today and felt the urge to put it into perspective. Being pissed about you being frank? No way. What sense does writing reviews have if you are not honest? I'd rather have a bunch of honest people talking about it than just sugar coating what everyone might dislike the instance their listen to it theirselves.
Thanks again for shading some light on the lesser known stuff! We would rot in the cellar if it wasn't for people like you. And your readers, of course ;)
Have a good one everyone.
That artwork is killer, I can imagine how this sounds, having trawled through myriad 'stoner-metal' bands on bandcamp trying to find gems. I won't judge the band on this though, especially after such a great reply from one of the members! Might give their LP a listen.
As for good stoner bandcamp finds, I'll give you some:
Black Willows - Haze (unique, near-perfect)
Ocean Towers - Distractions (amazing atmosphere)
The Grand Astoria - Punkadelia Supreme
Ethereal Riffian - Aeonian
Their LP is definitely more promising Mad., sounds like a solid 3.5/4.0 at the moment.
Cool man, why don't you review it? Maybe you could get a feature - I'd help you
I'm planning on it, need to listen to it a few more times and I'll give it a go. In the process of moving to university (I leave tomorrow) so it'll probably be done tomorrow evening or Sunday. Getting it featured would be awesome, and any help would of course be appreciated!
Sod it, I'll try and get it done on the release date, so tomorrow. I think I already know the basics of what I wanna say.
Awesome man, I'll give you a shout in the meds thread for a feature