Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stone Temple Pilots Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots

It seems that with a band such as Stone Temple Pilots, either you like them or you don't, without much middle ground or indifferent feelings amongst the masses. From the beginning, some have continually dismissed their sound, claiming that they were simply riding on the coattails of Seattle artists including Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. On the other hand, those of us who have been hooked after hearing Core and those songs that have been subsequently stuck in our heads since 1992 have come to love whatever mix of pop-influenced psychedelic grunge that this somewhat dysfunctional family of four have in store for us with each and every album. After countless breakups, solo projects, drug addictions and rehab stints, 2010 finds the original Stone Temple Pilots back with another great, self-titled rock and roll album. If you love them and what they have done in the past, you're in luck. If you have never cared for their sound, chances are you won't find anything mind-blowing here. This is front to back, start to finish a true Stone Temple Pilots record and a great one at that.

With 2010's self-titled album, there is less of the grunge crunch from Core and a lot more attention placed on melody and pop sensibility as with Purple and Tiny Music. Each song is well written with corresponding guitar hooks and vocal lines that are sure to stick in your head as did Stone Temple Pilots' early material. Scott Weiland's voice is both strong and rich, yet not as powerful as it once was. The album's production relies a great deal on layered vocal lines that are placed in all of the right places where the songs need an extra something to get the point across. Both Robert and Dean Deleo provide world class guitar and bass work, with extremely tasteful playing that lays back in the pocket and provides what is appropriate at the all the right times. Eric Kretz has matured a great deal musically on this record, though he has always been a great drummer indeed. This album finds Kretz playing percussive parts that are much more solid and straight forward than what we have heard from him in the past. The album opens with "Between the Lines", one of the albums more straight ahead tracks that features some of Weiland's best lyrical contributions including the line "even when we used to take drugs" repeated over and over again as if he is referring to his substance-filled past with a smattering of tongue-in-cheek humor. "Take a Load Off" and "Dare If You Dare" feature open, celebratory choruses with Weiland's vocals taking the higher octave and are some of the finest moments musically in the entire career thus far for the Pilots. With a nod to the 1970's influence that has always been at the forefront for this band, "Huckleberry Crumble" sounds a lot like early Aerosmith with a strut that would give any classic rock band a run for its money. The new self-titled album also features some light-hearted pop numbers with "Cinnamon" and "First Kiss on Mars" both of which are full of room to breathe with almost airy writing and production techniques that add to the overall delicate beauty of the songs themselves. On a side note, kudos to the Stone Temple Pilots for including some absolutely gorgeous album art from artist Shepard Fairey that is both simple and tasteful, adding to the overall package itself.

All in all, it's great to see that the four original members in the Stone Temple Pilots have what it takes to do what they always have done after all these years. Whether you love them or hate them, they have proven once again that they are indeed a great rock and roll band, no more and no less. -Andrew Bryant

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Devil's Blood-The Time of No Time Evermore

he Devil's Blood
The Time of No Time Evermore

Dutch band The Devil's Blood leave nothing up to the imagination as far as what kind of entity that they are. Equally embracing the dark occult rock sounds of bands such as Black Widow and Coven along with the usual doom godfathers including Black Sabbath and Pentagram, The Devil's Blood set out to create music that is vintage and timeless, both beautiful and evil with some of the most infamous live performances to date from any band in either the rock or metal sect complete with blood soaked incantations and heavy riffage. Combining their dark, psychedelic rock with a love for 1950's Gothic horror culture, they have been a constant in the underground music scenes throughout the world for quite some time and have now began to find their way into the hands of more listeners as their material is passed via word of mouth and in a growing number of publications. What seems to appeal most beyond the dark, occult aura of the band itself, is the melding of classic elements from garage, psychedelic and the heavy rock and roll genres, bringing together fans from all across the spectrum.

With The Time of No Time Evermore, the Devil's Blood give it their all with this first full length released in late 2009 in Europe and finally here in the states this year. On this album, the music leans more towards the psychedelic and folk rock elements than before. Still present are the strong Sabbathian riffs, though they are a bit more few and far between than on their previous E.P's. Musically and vocally, The Time of No Time Evermore brings to mind Jethro Tull, Jefferson Airplane, and Heart along with the ever-present influences from the occult rock great of the late 1960's and early 1970's. One strong aspect that sets The Devil's Blood apart from similar artists are the strong and clean female vocals sung by a vocalist known as F. the Mouth of Satan, whose vibrato and tone venture into a form of almost operatic performance at times. The songs themselves are decent rock songs, dealing with both celebratory and despairing subject matter throughout. For me, the strongest song that stands out as a highlight is "Christ or Cocaine", a perfect hybrid of some long-lost Pentagram track and Don Felder's "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)."

The Time of No Time Evermore is perfect for those fans of such bands including Witchcraft, Blood Ceremony, and Black Math Horseman. If you like these dark, throwback sounds, chances are, you won't be disappointed. The Devil's Blood has finally poked its horned head through the thick haze of smoke and is now ready to take on the world with this one. -Andrew Bryant