Of the various Italian stoner rock bands I’ve come across who follow a more traditional approach to the genre — acts like El-Thule, Black Rainbow and Void Generator — Treviso’s OJM might be the most characteristically individual. By that I mean that within a genre of classic and desert rock influence, they still manage to come out sounding distinct in their musical personality. Volcano (Go Down Records) is OJM’s fourth studio full-length since forming in 1997, and as it unites the band with the accomplished production of Rancho de la Luna’s Dave Catching (Queens of the Stone Age, earthlings?, The Giraffes, etc.), it hones a refined and polished approach to the genre of stone that, rather than aping the likes of Kyuss or Fu Manchu, modernizes and refreshes the approach.
They called the album Volcano in honor of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull that wrought so much havoc on Northern Europe this past Spring, cancelling thousands of flights all around the world, including that which would have brought Catching to work with OJM in the flesh. Volcano was recorded at Red House Studio in Senigallia, and the four-piece wound up collaborating with Catching via Skype, presumably passing files back and forth via some fascinating and futuristic transfer protocol. A credit to both parties, then, that the album sounds as good as it does. Led by its founders, drummer Max Ear and vocalist David Martin, OJM’s brand of rock knocks heads with classic garage thickened and updated, offering catchy Monster Magnet-style hard rockness on “I’ll be Long” and “Cocksucker” with guitarist/backing vocalist Andrew Pozzy (who used to play bass) turning down the fuzz as compared to a song like “Rainbow” to bring out a different feel.