Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
San Diego-based quartet Mezzoa released one of the most powerful, fluid stoner rock albums this year with the amazing ‘Astral Travel‘. There, I said it and in doing so, got right to the point concerning this phenomenal 9-song outing.
It is the product of much hard work, years of such in fact, from the foursome within Mezzoa: vocalist and rhythm guitarist Nacho Maldonado, lead guitarist and backing vocals John Cruz, drummer Roy Belarmino, and bassist Q. Pena.
From the very Kyuss-ian overtones of the introductory track, “Song Of The Sun” (video below), you just know you’ve embarked upon something incredible. The thick guitar grooves, the piercing rhythmic rumbles… and then those vocals! If there was ever a predestined voice and styling set for some utterly superior rock and roll, this is them.
The chugging pace of the song and subsequent fret-scorching guitar parts are something revisited in other superb cuts like “Chariots Of Cho” and the hazy heaviness of “MezzoAmerican“. It’s when these guys go headlong into the full-on infusion of psychedelic elements into the music that they truly excel in my opinion.
This is on display most during the mid-section of this album with three back-to-back numbers. The semi-title track “Astral Traveler“, and its follow-ups, “Incan Orchid“, and “Shemyaza & The Watchers“, are clearly a high watermark of the LP. “Astral Traveler” is a hypnotically infectious, alluring song rife with simmering presence and fantastic presentation. “Shemyaza…” channels those same qualities for a lightly airy feel, one that compels you to float right along with it. I could almost swear there’s a sample of something used at the 2:40 mark within it, I’ll hopefully remember to ask Nacho next time we speak.
In closing, suffice to say that Mezzoa’s ‘Astral Travel‘ is as superb a stoner rock album that you’ll hear all this year. If there is a downside to it, it might be the idea that not enough people know about it or have heard it but hopefully, this review will help change that. Check out the visualizer below and then do yourself a favor and stream the album. Find more Mezzoa at their website.