Among desert rock “outsiders” — that is, those not actually living in the Californian desert from which the genre takes its name — Greek four-piece 1000mods have to be somewhere near the top in terms of accurately conveying the swing, the tonal weight and the focus on vibe that typify the style. Their 2011 full-length debut, Super Van Vacation (review here), announced their arrival as professionals in terms of their grip on the aesthetic, having refined the approach to that point over two EPs — 2006′s Blank Reality and 2009′s Liquid Sleep (review here) — as well as a 2010 split tape with similarly-intentioned German outfit Wight, and the follow-up long-player, Vultures, which also comes after late 2012′s Valley of Sand EP (discussed here), they continue to proffer classic stoner rock riffing. You could take the eight-track/39-minute The Lab Records outing as further evidence that fuzz knows no geographic boundaries, or you can simply approach Vultures as a killer heavy rock record. The latter makes for a more satisfying listening experience, I’ll admit, and for those who approach songs like “She” and “Horses’ Green” with the expectation of their traditionalist spirit, 1000mods will answer back with high-grade rolling grooves that cut to the same root influences Lowrider once embroiled themselves in to craft Ode to Io. One hears more than a little Kyuss throughout, but 1000mods make the sound their own both through the energetic charge of their swing and the memorable hooks around which their songs are based, pieces like “Big Beautiful” and “Modesty” running at full-speed while “Low” and the closing “Reverb of the New World” have a more spacious take.
They skirt the line here and there, particularly on the finale, the title of which derives from a Carl Sagan sample that also appears in the song, but 1000mods never quite tip over into heavy psychedelic jamming, holding instead to the structures around which their songs are based and keeping a sense of movement even in their most languid stretches. If they’re exploring, they’re exploring the impact of the riffs, rather than the riffs themselves. That’s not to say they never have an open feel — even before “Low” starts its laid back push, “She” caps off with an instrumental build that’s as wide a berth as anyone could ask — but there’s always a conscious purpose at work, and as the vibe is so loose of the album overall, it’s doubly impressive, the four-piece of guitarists Gianni and George, bassist/vocalist Dani and drummer Labros never lacking for direction even when they want to and succeed in sounding lost. Opener “Claws” probably could’ve closed Vultures just as easily as it leads off, but the in medias res feel of the guitar line that starts it makes the momentum all the more immediate, and with the speedier boogie of “Big Beautiful” — a lyrical reference to Queen‘s “Fat Bottomed Girls” in the line, “Big bottom woman, you can make a big boy out of me,” is a nice touch — following, 1000mods are almost into the thick of Vultures before the listener knows it, the Sky Valley-style opening of “She” giving way to one of the album’s biggest riffs, Dani‘s voice echoing and gruff over top. Groove is paramount on “She” as throughout, but the riffs, the crash, the groove all comes in service to the song, and even as “She” enters its reaches in guitar solo tradeoffs to make for as big a finish as possible — the ending of “Claws” seemed to come in movements, “She” is more linear – 1000mods waste nothing in conveying the intended atmosphere.