Style: Stoner Rock
Release Date: 6 May 2019
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While heavy metal in the US seems to have become intrinsically tied to pot culture, I grew up in a very different scene in the UK and the whole stoner mindset just seemed dumb to me. Well, it may be, but I missed out because I have to say that stoner rock/metal is fascinating to me in 2019, long after it was supposed to die out as obsolete. It's an odd genre to persevere but it really found a foothold in the nineties and is enjoying a growth spurt as a variety of bands in a variety of countries take it in new directions.
Rumbleweed (which Google emphatically wants me to change to Tumbleweed) are a new stoner rock band from Santander in Spain, home to what little English money I have left, who were founded as recently as 2018. This is their debut EP, though at a mere two minutes shorter than Reign in Blood, it's not far from being a full album. It also highlights a real versatility in the band, even over as few as six tracks.
My favourite tracks are the first two. The Acme of Stupidity is psychedelic in outlook with the requisite fuzzy guitar getting bouncier as the song runs on and a beat that makes this almost sound like downtuned funk. By the end, it's got raucous enough to blitz out with punk attitude. L Devourer starts slowly too and builds well with some memorable riffs and good use of a pair of vocalists.
The middle two tracks have an odd habit of disappearing into the background. I say odd because I'm surprised at how the title track does that. It kicks off with a fantastic riff and always sounds magnificent whenever I tune back into it but, however many times I listen through, I somehow get distracted while it's on. That's easier to explain with Suffocation, which is easily the loosest and least overt track on the EP. It's easy to get lost in that song but I don't want to get lost in Djinns of Duna. I think it's the loose verses that do it, before the riff captures us once more. I'd say it goes home well too, but the cover may cast doubts on that. Where's home?
The last two tracks, however, never fade into anywhere. Catch the Bunny is another bouncy track, a relatively conventional alternative rock song but a successful one that's impossible to ignore. Finally, Tailored Suit, bouncy once more, finds still more success with the band's dual vocal approach. I should call out Rubi and Gad, the two singers, who combine magnificently. The achingly slow section three minutes in is a real bonus, as is the fast section a minute later that wraps up the song. I dug this one a lot and any release that begins and ends with its best tracks ought to do well.
I don't know enough about stoner rock to know where Rumbleweed found their sound or took their influences. I'm learning but I have a long way to go. I just know that I like this stuff: the fuzzy guitars, the interesting drums, the clean but otherwise highly varied vocals. I've always lumped this sort of thing in with 'alternative' and written it off and I regret that. This is a great example of something I'd have missed out on a couple of decades ago that I don't need to miss out on any more.