I didn’t exactly have the money laying around, but I did exactly have a few drinks in me, and being in such a state over this past weekend, I decided to partake in one of my favorite rituals: the drunken internet record buy. My longstanding wish list over at the All That is Heavy webstore was the target, and I just picked up a couple discs before crashing out for the night: Kaleidoscope by Siena Root, Antarctic Abyss by The Deep Blue and Italian rockers OJM‘s first album, Heavy.
The Siena Root was the last piece to complete their CD discography, and I reviewed that The Deep Blue album nearly two years ago and still couldn’t get it out of my head, so I figured a purchase of the full non-promo copy was long overdue, but it was the OJM I was really interested to hear. Their 2010 album Volcano (review here) had been in my head again since reading Vincebus Eruptum for most of last week, and while I’m not saying I’m embarking on a journey through their entire catalog, I’m not not saying it either. We’ll see how it plays out.
In the meantime, what I found with Heavy — released in 2002 on Beard of Stars Records — is a stoner rock album every bit of the quality of earliest Dozer (if arriving several years later), paying tribute to the deserts of lore with fuzzy riffs, occasional doomed excursions and that kind of unabashed fuzz that mostly European acts can get away with proffering today. Even cooler is that the record was produced by Italian guru Paul Chain (of earliest/best Death SS and his several solo incarnations, including Paul Chain Violet Theatre and P.C. Translate), giving it direct lineage to the classic underground.
Alright, maybe that’s not cooler than the sound of the album itself, which thrills with the straightforward come-find-me undiscovered gem “As I Know,” the swaggering “Strange Dreams” and the seething blues-based “You Come” while also leaving room for a Stooges cover of “TV Eye.” The songs are mostly short, but eight-minute closer “Theorem” has some acoustics and added complexity to its instrumental structure that’s a definite insight into the progressive path OJM has gone down since. I won’t lie and say I’m not tempted to fill in the blanks with 2003′s The Light Album and their Michael David (MC5)-produced 2006 outing, Under the Thunder, but if anything, take that as a statement of how much ass Heavy and Volcano kick in the first place.
If you thought you’d already partaken in all that stoner rock of the late ’90s/early ’00s had to offer and you haven’t yet checked out OJM, you’ll be glad you did. I think as the years go on, there’s something about the heavy rock made in the five or six years post-Kyuss that’s going to stand it out among what came before or since, but either way, Heavy is a cool record, good songs, killer grooves, and you can’t go wrong with that. Rest assured, I’ve bought way worse while under the influence.
Tags: Beard of Stars Records, Italy, OJM, Treviso