Pet The Preacher

The Banjo

Written by: AP on 06/11/2012 15:51:42

Denmark is not exactly renowned for its burgeoning stoner rock scene, so it's no surprise that Pet the Preacher - a trio which consists of guitarist/vocalist Christian Hede Madsen, bassist Torben Wæver Pedersen, and drummer Christian Von Larsen - have been able to carve out their own niche there and become relatively popular in a short period of time. This review of their debut album "The Banjo" has been a long time coming, and after a considerable number of rotations during my morning/afternoon commute, I feel the time has finally come to share my notes on it with you.

When trying to figure out who exactly to compare Pet the Preacher to in terms of their chosen musical style, one name has continuously popped up in my thoughts: Clutch. Both bands use stoner- and hard rock as the basis for songs that regularly lapse into psychedelic jams and infuse elements of blues into them; and both bands alternate between lengthy acid trips and more direct, catchy rock songs to excellent results. It works because the more straightforward stuff (songs like "The Devil's Door" and the title track) functions as shots of adrenaline that snap the listener out of the trance induced by the more introverted picks (for instance, the closing duo "Don't You Leave Me Alone" and "Bottle Emotions"). There is also a third class of song present on "The Banjo" that combines the best of both worlds, such as "Cancer You Fucking Bitch" and "Below Your Feet", so that across the ten-song tracklist you're unlikely to ever dose off. Indeed, a large portion of the success of this album stems from variety and clever structuring.

But above all it is the skill and conviction with which Pet the Preacher tackle the genre that proves most impressive across multiple listening sessions. Forget all about production line guitar solos that are there because they're supposed to be there; Hede Madsen's guitar playing here is organic, heartfelt and soulful, each chord strike and squeal oozing with attitude and devilish bravado. This, combined with Pedersen's groovy bass licks, gives the album a sleazy, whiskey drenched atmosphere, best captured on the aforementioned "The Devil's Door", which oscillates between the sordid baritone refrains of "God took my soul / Left it at the Devil's door" and an awesome Western-style slide guitar in its loud chorus. Hede Madsen's gruff singing does a fair share of contribution to the general tone of the album as well, and this review would be accused of neglicience if I didn't at least mention how good this guy is - just check out "Below Your Feet" (which coincidentally bears a certain resemblance to Breaking Benjamin at times) to see what I mean.

A number of the songs, as hinted at earlier, are somewhat more difficult to get into at first - at least if you're a newcomer to the genre - simply because they don't offer any easy rewards. "Cancer You Fucking Bitch" takes some patience before it becomes clear that the reason it is so brash lyrically is that the subject matter must be extremely personal to Hede Madsen. The song is his catharsis, and says exactly what he feels without any unncessary theatrics. Songs like opening track "Hell", "When I'm Around", and the already mentioned closing duo are difficult by virtue of their introversion, but if, like me, you feel a strong love toward bands like Church of Misery, Graveyard and Witchcraft, their strong groove, psychedelia and emphasis on the two string instruments should give you goosepumps. It has quite frankly been a long time since I last heard rock songs this endearing.

So what's the verdict? "The Banjo" features sexy, bluesy, boozy, world class stoner rock that demands widespread attention; music that is as fit for the radio as it is for metal festivals. I have great difficulty finding actual problems with "The Banjo", as nearly every song is packed to the brim with spine tingling musicianship that comes straight from the heart and goes straight into my heart. Oh, and did I mention the whole thing is a concept album based around a man's struggle to get out of hell? Doesn't get much more rock'n'roll than that. As such, it is no exaggeration to say that what you have here is probably one of the best, if not the best Danish rock album released this year.

Download: The Devil's Door, Below Your Feet, The Banjo, Don't You Leave Me Alone, Bottle Emotions
For the fans of: Clutch, Kyuss, Monster Magnet
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.07.2012
Kozmik Artifactz

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