The legend goes that back in the early ?90s, when the Seattle scene was bursting with flannel-clad grunge rockers and the lines between metal, punk and commercially viable radio rock were being blurred in the name of heroin-caked couture, the stoner trio Snail released their self-titled full-length. A year later, they?d follow it with the All Channels are Open EP, and then break up before their second album was recorded.
Imagine having a record nag on you for 16 years. Maybe you don?t think about it every day, but whenever you think about your time in a band, you say to yourself, ?Wow, if only we?d done this one thing.? Snail?s MeteorCity debut, Blood, is supposedly the second album that went unreleased back when and the impetus for their current reunion. A gathering of 11 tracks of heavy fuzz, psych undertones, grooves spreading over sunny fields and vocals that seem to retain a softness even when shouted — whatever the situation was that brought it about, I?ll take it.
Adding second guitarist Eric Clausen in the process, the original trio of bassist Matt Lynch, drummer Marty Dodson and vocalist/guitarist Mark Johnson have not unearthed a long lost classic in the vein of Pentagram?s First Daze Here, but by taking the original demos and crafting Blood from them, they?ve managed to retain the spirit of the material and give it a modern sound. The production on the album is clear and natural and songs like ?Underwater? and ?Via/Penny Dreadful? are definitively stoner rock, but boast subtle intricacies many bands in the genre forego for the sake of simplistic riff and roll.
Particularly on Blood?s back half, it begins to shift into more psychedelic territory, blasting out the Nirvana-on-acid ?Not for Me? and the tensely pulsing ?Screen,? but Snail never veer from their stated stoner aesthetic or even lose their rein on accessibility. It?s hard to know whether the genre just hasn?t gone anywhere in the last decade in a half, if these guys were really ahead of their time or if they busted their collective ass updating the material, but Blood fits right in the ever-expanding spectrum of stoner rock in 2009 without being generic or lackluster.
That MeteorCity, who?ve seen fit to bolster the likes of Elder, Flood and Black Pyramid as spearheading a new movement in stoner rock, would hook up with Snail to release Blood, may seem puzzling, but one listen to the album will prove that none of its immediacy or vitality are out of place in this quickly-fading decade. We may all be riding hoverboard-wheelchairs by the time they put out another one, but at least Snail can rest easy knowing all the potential for their second LP has been fulfilled.
MeteorCity, Seattle, Snail