Jesus, small mercies.
I feel like I’ve been hollowed out and filled with badger dung. My skin is the papery consistency of dead petals. It might shatter if a breeze finds it. What I need is riffs. Big, heavy ones. Ones that slap you about a bit until you forget why you were even feeling all that delicate in the first place. The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire, the debut full-length out today from Brummie guitar-botherers Bovine, is doing pretty sweet on that front.
Picking your way over this gnarly terrain, you’ll find warped, twisted versions of the landmarks you were expecting. Vocalist Marcus VVulfgang (yeah?) can sound a bit like John Garcia, he can sound a bit like Josh Homme, he can sound a bit like a phlegmy Chris Cornell when he feels like it, all honey-mellowed and smoky allure. The delay-soaked guitars on opener Barium or the title track, or the phaser that opens I Will Make You Real (before it decides to stove your head in) all point to plugging in, sparking up and zoning out. Stoner rock, n’est-ce pas?
Almost. The filthy bar-sludge of Thank Fuck I Ain’t You (early contender for song title of the year, if that’s a thing) or The Battle Of The Sinkhole groove along at much the expected rate, but the well’s tainted with spikes of dissonance that you’d more likely find in hardcore than Kyuss. Then something like Heroes Are What? happens and it’s kind of like the way Up In Them Guts pins you up by the throat against all the hopeless graffiti on a peeling toilet wall before whispering a beautiful secret in your ear and spitting whiskey in your eyes. It’s character forming and nastily life-affirming. It sounds nothing like Up In Them Guts. But this is stoner rock blasted forward by rocket fuel, the laziness and bloat that too often hangs around the genre given a damn good hiding by wild-eyed punk fury.
Don’t sleep for two nights, eat a slice of waxy pizza for breakfast, torch your last Camel and listen to Bovine. If it doesn’t work, you’re not doing it right.