Review Summary: Breezy winds over the barren desert wasteland.
Hard to believe that the German trio Colour Haze has been carrying the torch of European stoner rock for a stunning 25 years now. With 12 albums under their belt it would seem logical that Stefan Koglek and his two sideman Philipp Rasthofer and Manfred Merwald has been delivering nothing but pure quality. But the truth is that group had quite a rough start on their first two albums as their style was more of a semi-progressive, krautrock hybrid with rather forgettable and wear results. After 1998’s “Seven”, Stefan made some changes into the lineup (that’s when Philipp and Manfred arrived) and the songwriting began to focus more than groovy, desert-like atmosphere and sound that we associate with them.
With 1999’s “Periscope”, the Colour Haze we know and love today have born.
Seven songs over 53 minutes, the album wastes no time. “Always Me” starts the show with its hyper-detuned, vacuum-like bass and rhythmic mid-tempo, and once the guitars fully kick in, the groove is on. The raw, chugging tone and sound, the synergetic dynamic between the verses, the bridges and choruses, Stefan’s voice that alters between half-singing and hoarse shouting, the bluesy, Hendrix-like flashy guitar solos all clearly a respectful following the teachings of the genre’s greats. The influance of Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, Unida and others are all over “Periscope” but its’s the excellent musicianship, consistent, varied songwriting and authenticity that makes this album so much more than a copycat.
“Antenna” oscillates between calm, clean passages with tribal-like drumming and more upbeat accords with an almost wiling main riff before Stefan’s voice fades in like a monk making his nightly prayer. Than it slows back, the drums become louder and more hypnotic than ever, echoing through the stringed instruments. “Pulse” switches back the energy with fast-paced, almost punkish riffs that still have a great swagger and hook to them, making it probably the coolest track on them. It’s the kind of song that makes you feel like buying a Harley Davidson and starting to ride the endless desert, while entering some bars and chugging beer. “Sun” delivers the heaviest, hairiest riffs you can imagine, giving and almost sludgy feel to them, but the loose, psychedelic, eastern-inspired guitar section in the middle showcases the well-balanced duality in the trio’s music.
The title track and its accompanied track feel like the long, endless trip under the scorching desert sun with perfectly melding, creative hard rock riffs, sporadic vocals and tight, intense drumwork. And with its epic 12 minute length, the final track has everything and even more that what a stoner rock fan could ask for, making it not only a great closer but also a general thesis about that band’ music. The way its relaxed opening slowly builds into the bigger and bigger riffs, and sections is marvelous, and just when it seems to end, it explodes into an all-out epic head-bang inducing jam sections with soaring guitars, bass and chugging.
You want quality stoner rock? Pick this one up, you can’t go wrong with it.