It's quite remarkable how many stoner rock bands I've heard since I founded this website. Before, I often watched a band on a festival and I usually liked them but still I never really started digging into the genre. As a result, most stoner rock sounded very alike for me. If I heard one, I thought, I'd heard them all. So when I visited Desertfest Belgium in october, I was quite stunned by the variation the bands in this genre evince. Later more and more stoner rock bands started finding their way to Merchants of Air and to be honest, I don't regret it, not at all.
Hailing from France, Soundcrawler is about to unleash their second effort on unexpecting audiences far and wide. They released an debut-e.p. (The Sandcrawler) in 2012. This new CD, with awesome artwork by Ani Artworks, is Soundcrawler's ticket to the international stages and festivals. At least, it should be, because this has become a very good rock album that can easily survive at any volume level. I'll get back to that later in this writing.
Soundcrawler clearly is a stoner rock band but they like to draw inspiration from traditional doom and nineties grunge music. It's quite interesting to witness how all these genres blend into something refreshing, something that can start a headbanging session but also something unobtrusive if you want to. The tempo is a bit slower than numerous other bands in this genre, yet this does elevate Soundcrawler a bit. The doom influences give the well-played rock a sense of epicness, if that's a word. It's that what makes 'Burning Scales' an awesome, world-class song.
Yet, even that is not completely true for all the songs. 'A God To Feed' is a bit faster and has a great rock 'n' roll calibre. It (along with most other songs) has several riffs that have the power to get stuck in your head and pop-up at any time. On the other hand, 'Long Come Slow' starts out as an awesome rock ballad, perfect for a cold weekend day like this, where influences from Soundgarden shine through. The same can be said about 'Souls From The Trash', which is even better than the previous one. In fact, Soundgarden is a band that often comes to mind while listening to this album, 'Civil' could be written by the latter. By the way, I absolutely love the breather at the end. 'And All The Seconds Left' is a beautiful, relaxing piece of instrumental music that truly completes the album.
Now, about that volume level thing. In most rock music, the plan is to play it as loudly as possible. Yet, sometimes a lower volume is required (because of neighbours, headache, hangover,..) and that's where some bands lose their power. Soundcrawler does not. Even at a lower volume these songs maintain their power and most of their intensity. To me (someone who makes a living with his ears), that's proof of excellent songwriting. In that, these Frenchmen have clearly succeeded. Besides, for the die-hard rocker, don't worry, this music will indeed blow you away when played on a high volume level. Even better, I'm very positive this will be pure power on stage.
Anyway, if you are in any way interested in decent stoner rock; stop reading this review, get your rock 'n' roll ass over to their Bandcamp-page and pre-order the hell out of The Dead End Host. If this release is a preview of what's about to come in 2015, this is going to be an awesome musical year.