The Stark Artic

From the label that brought us the excellent When the Deadbolt Breaks comes a grooving, loping doom/sludge act, though this one comes with a thick stoner doom haze and features (former) Metal Maniacs scribe JJ Koczan on vocals.

Hailing from New Jersey, Maegashira (some rank in Sumo wrestling I gather) is armed with a beefy, bong fueled production and Koczan’s excellent and varied vocals which range from deep bellows, frenzied screams and bluesy croons. However, The Stark Artic isn’t as purely hazy and laid back as most stoner doom, but culls more from the likes of Earthride and The Gregorian Skull insomuch their tones which while thick and groovy, still have an angry fight anyone, swaying, slurred stoner presence and stinking denim and beards, dive bar atmosphere, rather than a red eyed, giggling stupor. There also a swampy hint of Eyehategod/Outlaw Order in the edgy tone and the schizophrenic vocal attack.

The Stark Artic contains some excellent, lumbering, vurp tasting grooves as “Caribou Crossing”, the lurching “Ammonia for Sweat” and sweaty, slow burn of “Baggage Claim”. However, the album does not have much staying power and once the slightly rehashed “Hi From Jersey” and the epic but wandering 22 minute “Back From Muro”  (which reprises the riff from instrumental opener “Ongoing Corneal Erosion”) rumble into view, my attention is starting to wander as I’ve heard many of the riffs already. That’s not to say it’s well done, it’s just that my stoner doom/sludge o meter gets full pretty quickly and frankly I’m not a drug user, so while I can certainly appreciate the music and groove, the underlying mind altering haze, fuzz and subject matter and its intended moods and atmosphere of the music’s backbone doesn’t really appeal to me.

However, those of you that relish the thought of a low end, nightmarish, grizzled acid trip and hallucinogenic coma, Maegashira should certainly fit the bill.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 20th, 2009


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