Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
It has been four long years since Albuquerque, New Mexico’s RED MESA graced us with their phenomenal S/T début back in 2014.
Now RED MESA has returned with yet another powerful outing, the recently released full-length, ‘The Devil And The Desert‘. The seven-song record is quite a fierce opus too, one that travels amid blurred lines of desert rock, alt. country, blues, and Americana.
That walk on the warped side is immediately clear on the opening cut, “Devil Come Out To Play“. With its acoustically enhanced intro soon joined by slide guitar, electrified riffs, and raspy, whisky-soaked vocals, whatever games the Devil may be playing sure sound fun as hell.
Ol’ Slew Foot sticks around to be the subject of the next song also, “The Devil’s Coming Round“. If you haven’t been convinced of RED MESA‘s knack for style-melding mastery yet, you should be by the time this track is finished. Sounding a lot like what I would imagine a Mark Lanegan and Marilyn Manson collaboration to sound like, the song is quite a high point of this record.
It is at this point that things take on a bit more prevalent psychedelic vibe as if we just ingested some mescaline and are now traipsing across the dunes. The instrumental “Springtime In The Desert” is the ideal accompaniment to our wandering, too, melodic tranquility ensues after its slightly Doors-y intro. The desert now sticks around to be the subject of the next song also, “Desert Sol“. Otherworldly nuances ripple outward from yet another highly hallucinatory-inducing composition, but something is quite different. Where “Springtime In The Desert” was light and uplifting, “Desert Sol” is dark and disturbing.
With eerie tones emanating, things gradually gain a more malevolent presence amid a Middle Eastern flare in the music. Slow and oh-so psych doom, heaving with menacing instrumentation, moments of massive fuzz soloing, and the ever subdued vocals – it is all so fantastic!
Speaking of fantastic, “Sacred Datura“, is one of this effort’s most stellar standouts. It explodes with gargantuan, fuzzed-out riffs after a brief rollout of subtle vocals and tremolo guitar effect. Advancing with blues ‘n doom discharges as a cycle of minimal verses and crushing, overpowering choruses begin to alternate from there, with a mid-song turn to Black Sabbath by way of Sheavy worship, too!
The stroll along the dark side continues with the incendiary rager, “Route 666“, a chunky, riff-fueled onslaught of desert metal. It hits you hard right between the ears and never lets up, not for a second. Need a comparative? If Kyuss had been a heavy metal band, this is exactly what they’d have sounded like.
But now, get that metal out of your system, for we have reached our last stop upon these travels, the lengthy, epic album-ending title track, “The Devil And The Desert“. With nearly 11 minutes running time, the song is a monstrous behemoth of lethal doom with slight nods to the psych realm. If the earlier songs were the journey, then this is the destination sought and our odds of surviving grow bleak.
“Into the desert I go… to lose my mind and find my soul“
Once again, RED MESA shows itself to be one of the more promising entities within the heavy rock underground. Where some acts are more akin to tourists in the genre of true desert / stoner rock, RED MESA is the most real of deals. They damn sure embody, and perfectly emit, all the elements, aspects, and things that come to mind when one thinks of these genres… in my opinion, anyway.
Stream ‘The Devil And The Desert‘ from RED MESA in our review or head over to Bandcamp HERE to stream and purchase the album.