Sweat Lodge


Written by: BV on 16/01/2016 17:29:47

Sweat Lodge from Austin, Texas is one of those bands that practically oozes of its regional brand of rock n’ roll, as their gritty riffing reeks of southern-tinged desert rock a la ZZ Top (with less boogie and more low-end) and far, far heavier acts that might be from the same region but share the stylistic approach – bands like Clutch, for instance. For years Sweat Lodge were apparently a guitar-less trio; on “Talismana”, however, Sweat Lodge have widened their lineup to now include no less than two guitarists so the outfit is now a quintet.

The results of expanding the lineup actually speak quite clearly for themselves if you listen to a track like “Slow Burn” and compare it to the version of the track that was available on the band’s 2012 debut EP. Although the original has a certain charm to it in a minimalistic way, the squealing strings of the guitars do benefit tremendously and add several layers of dynamics (albeit often in a minimal less-is-more approach) that ultimately benefit the track’s overall progression. “Phoenix Ascent” is ironically more of a slow burner than the track named “Slow Burn”. It’s slowly built up riff and the sense of impending doom lurking in the mid-tempo track before entering up-tempo boogie-rock territory is stoner-rock development done right. It’s a formula all too familiar, but nonetheless almost always welcome, as it is the stylistic equivalent to reaching the climax in a progressive rock song where some kind of mind-blowing solo unveils all of the universe’s secrets, or something. At least that’s what I imagine.

What you get out of tracks like “Black Horizon”, “Heavy Head” and the phenomenal “Banshee Call” is quite simply a meld of the traditional stoner rock elements introduced in the California deserts, mixed with the more recent, distinctly Texan variety of bands like The Well and The Sword, topped off with a hint of classic Pentagram or St. Vitus to add a sense of doom to stoner proceedings.

That’s all well and good, but is “Talismana” then a great album? Not entirely. It packs quite a punch on the first initial listens – doing exactly what a boogie-infused stoner rock album should - it gets you headbanging. After those first few listens, however, the riffs and the superb tightness of the band sadly lean towards a sense of predictability which, save for on tracks like “Banshee Call”, renders the album a slightly too familiar affair. Don’t get me wrong, as there is nothing wrong with sticking to a certain, well-known formula for creating some kick-ass tunes. It’s just a case of them being just that and nothing more. There’s no innovation, seemingly no desire to seek new musical ground or an ambition to create something fresh. - But I digress, Sweat Lodge have created an album with “Talismana” which will surely find a fair bit of love and affection in the stoner-rock crowds of the world. After all, it does have most of what makes the genre so loveable. I’d just like for Sweat Lodge to focus a bit more on what they could actually be writing and playing, rather than what has already been played by so many before them.

Download: Bed of Ashes, Slow Burn, Talismana, Banshee Call
For the fans of: Pentagram, The Sword, Clutch
Listen: Facebook

Release date 07.08.2015
Ripple Music

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