(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist, RiffRelevant.com)
Speaking solely for myself, it takes something really exceptional from the ever-increasingly more exploited Stoner Rock genre to impress me these days.
With the tag being applied to so many hordes upon heaping hordes of dime-a-dozen pretenders to the stoner/occult doom throne, it’s a bit deflating to delve into most fare sporting said descriptive. Yes, what you get most times are lame, immensely exaggerated, and pretentiously overblown to the Nth degree facsimiles of the long gone greats that originally set the bar so high.
Then entered Norway’s SAINT KARLOFF and their recently released (July 27) début for Twin Earth Records, “All Heed The Black God“. It’s true, just when you thought that nothing connected to stoner-anything could give you a thrill… comes something that absolutely does!
To quote a short summary from fellow underground music reviewer Paul Rote, “Hints of High Reeper, Saint Vitus, and Seventies retro. All the while it emanates a modern Stoner vibe…” – is a good, albeit brief, place to start. That is spot on and to the point, giving someone the broad strokes of what they might expect from Mads Melvold (Guitar, Vocals), Ole Sletner (Bass), and Adam Suleiman (Drums), the trio now better known as SAINT KARLOFF.
The threesome are all about occult rock heaviness, the sort that emanates vintage undercurrents with contemporary sensibilities, on such massive tracks as “Ghost Smoker” (official video below) or “When The Earth Cracks Open“. They explore such on other cuts like “Space Junkie” and “Radioactive Tomb“, too, but they inject it with doses of high-octane adrenaline, enough to make your head spin in ecstatic bliss.
Some of my favorite moments come with the exploratory use of more psych-oriented elements, like those contained in the beautiful instrumental “Ganymedes“. Or when they enhance that base with more intense fuzz-doom elements as they do on the powerhouse “Dark Sun” – one of my particular faves.
Then there is the album ending pinnacle of density, but one that is elevated with grooves and melodic tinges, “Spellburn“. Burn you shall, too, under the sonic bewitching of SAINT KARLOFF‘s spell casting on their magnificent first official full-length outing, “All Heed The Black God“. It’s albums like this that instill a sense of hope within me when it comes to the oft-times tired, tamed template of stoner what have you.
Dig it for yourself here in our review’s embedded stream or take flight over to Bandcamp HERE for streaming and purchase options.