Review Summary: One last journey…
It was a woeful day when Samsara Blues Experiment announced they call it a day. The trio have been one of the most successful bands from the German psychedelic/stoner scene, second only to Colour Haze. 2010's Long Distance Trip
was seen as a milestone for the current generation of the genre, especially coming from a debuting act. It also became a curse for them as many casual fans did not search past the respective LP, although their output remained consistent in quality. Choosing to further develop their sound rather than stagnating in a comfortable zone, the group honed their chemistry and vocals while introducing progressive rock leanings, Eastern music elements and synthesizers. 2017’s One with the Universe
displayed this evolution in a more relaxed, natural way than its predecessors did.
This latest and final record, End of Forever
continues down the same path with a similar vibe. We receive a bit of everything they have tried so far, however, the riffs are often accompanied by multiple embellishing synth leads. ‘Second Birth’ is the best example, creating a mix of Indian and kraut vibes around the opening jam part. Once the band kicks into gear, things become pretty epic and fun. They always knew how to twist and turn their solos not to become exhaustive or boring. Meanwhile, the swinging groove of ‘Massive Passive’ displays a more familiar approach pushing the fuzz up front. The vocals are at their best so far, while the straightforward rhythm packs considerable punch. During the middle stretch of the album, ‘Southern Sunset’ and ‘Lovage Leaves’ each develop in different directions. The former switches between Santana-esque, percussion heavy beats and breezy melodies. The alternating Mellotron and guitar solos add further flavor to this already sweet blend of styles. ‘Lovage Leaves’ is an instrumental ditty that lets the synth pads create a pastoral atmosphere, playing over smooth bass and drum interplay. After these, the title track boasts a darker vibe and more prophetic vocals, closer to earlier material. The heavy riffs abound for one last time before closing epic, ‘Orchid Annie’ ends things in a lighter, bluesy fashion. Even though it’s unfortunate they decided to halt their activity after only 13 years, I respect their decision to do it while still in their prime.
Overall, End of Forever
is a step forward in Samsara Blues Experiment’s career. I admire them for not relying solely on tested formulas, building on top of previous laid foundations instead until this last moment. They have crafted a niche of their own and were always reliable to deliver a strong effort. I hope this is only a hiatus and the group will reconvene sooner than later to pick up where they left off.