Monday, November 14, 2011
SuperGiant - Pistol Star
Thunder: noun: The explosive sound that accompanies a stroke of lightning.
SuperGiant: noun: see Thunder.
A sonic explosion. A crack of electricity tearing through the desert sky. A southwestern thunderstorm full of malevolence and fear. A thunderhead gathering on the bleak horizon. Violence to follow.
Rampaging out of the desert southwest state of New Mexico, SuperGiant breathe in the dirt and dust of their arid environment and spew out a thunderous assault of bottom-heavy, fuzzy-sludged, stoner rock that's as tough and rugged as the southwest's ancient mountains. Riff-mad waves of sound blow the sand off the bleached and whitened bones of the desert's dead, exposing an ancient and beating soul. The thunderhead approaches. Scorpions scatter in fear of the approaching devastation.
I'm not talking hyperbole here. Tons of stoner, sludge, southern, and doom rock makes its way through the Ripple doors each month, but I can't remember the last time I heard a band that brings it all together with the ferocity, balls, and skill that SuperGiant does. Each riff is simple, pure and clean, but mean as a starving desert coyote tearing the flesh off an unsuspecting kill. Drums and bass pummel with the unrelenting death knell of the desert sun. And best of all, each song rocks with a groove as steady as the flow of the Rio Grande. This IS desert rock. This is what it's supposed to sound like. Stark and heavy and mean. Thunder. It sounds like thunder.
"Tres de la Manana" is my introduction to the desert hostility. The intro riff is simple and barren, a pulse of bass perfectly timed to add the menace. Then the storm hits and all hell breaks loose. Bass and drums kick into overdrive, pounding that riff into the rockhard desert ground. Joel Rogers' voice is the perfect accompaniment for the barely contained mayhem ripping the planet apart. Sweet and smooth when he wants, at other times, his vocal chords sound like they've been dessicated and leathered by the baking desert sun. Like he does here, when he drops down into the chorus, his vocal chords offering up every epithelial cell as if a sacrifice to the Sun God.
As good as that opening track is, it was really the second cut, "Emotion" that spiked me down to the desert floor. A simple drum beat. A galloping bass. So far, this could be anybody. But lightning knows when to strike, and with that speed and precision, Jeremy's Mccollum's guitar slices in like electric fire and suddenly the whole desert has erupted into an inferno of fire and ash. Raging like the best riff of Feurzeug or Monster Magnet, the boys let the sound settle while they sit back into a comfortable groove. But it's only a false safety, for seconds later, the fire explodes again. Joel screams to the heavens, the riff echoes against the walls of the craggy valleys, and the rhythm section of Gary Chavez and Kyle Erickson bring the earth to a cataclysmic shudder. No other way to put it. If you like your rock heavy and hard, and grooving like an earthquake, this song is perfect. Just perfect.
There's not a down moment anywhere on this disc. "Revolution" plods and trounces like a soldier's death march. "Rosey Posey" drops some AC/DC-esque attitude into the desert air, but in a way that's more threatening than anything the Aussies ever conjured. "Aries," mixes a sci-fi-ish tone to the guitar before dropping into something as mean as a pissed off pack of Hell's Angels about to set pillage to a helpless desert town. "Mexican Radio" brings a ZZ Top-ish southern boogie swagger into the mix, with the band's ode to the stations that pump it out from down south. Think of this as their version of "Heard it on the X." What's noteworthy here, is how well the guys can pull off the sunburned blues. Finally, "Pistol Star," is a time-warped, epic of Sabbath-y terror and dread. This song reminds me of an Apache indian warrior, alone on the mesa, fire raging, offering a final sacrifice to the Gods before he embarks upon his final suicide raid against the white man. Dread. Foreboding. Violence will follow.
SuperGiant got it. What ever it is that makes a band rise above the carnivorous hoards that shuffle and scurry for attention in the desert-world of stoner rock. What ever it is that makes one band's riffs that much more intense. Their groove that much groovier. Their deslolate and bleak desert land that much scarier. SuperGiant have it. They have that extra something to create magic.
They have thunder.