River Cult – Halcyon Daze (Magnetic Eye Records / Blackseed Records / Nasoni Records, 09 February 2018)
In the grand tradition of classic power trios like Mountain or Cream, infused with the loud and fuzzy psychedelics of Blue Cheer, Brooklyn’s River Cult ought to be bursting onto radar screens all over the place with their first LP Halcyon Daze. Only five tracks long but with a running time around forty-two minutes, the record came out earlier this year via a handful of labels in New York, Pittsburgh, and Germany — but if it has somehow managed to elude your attention thus far, our job today is to fix that!
“Likelihood of Confusion” introduces the band’s heavily classic-rock-influenced sound: a guitar reminiscent of Leslie West and a rocksteady rhythm section that’s equal parts earlier Sabbath and later Zeppelin, but as the minutes tick by, some powerful hallucinogenics gradually sneak into the mix, until there’s little left but an anaesthetic hazy feeling.
From there the album takes random turns: sometimes in a much heavier direction, post-grunge metal with crunchy distortion and feedback, reverby yelled vocals and omnipresent cymbal crashes; occasionally into more experimental, exploratory territory, mellower and wistful. Throughout all of this, one constant factor is the near-criminal assault upon a wide range of wah pedals (I would honestly be surprised to learn that any fewer than a dozen had met an untimely demise during the making of this album).
Overall, the tone of the album seems less angry than exasperated, less emotional than drained, and — in a manner of speaking — less halcyon than dazed. Halcyon Daze is out now on CD/cassette/digital as well as vinyl; you’d be doing yourself a favor by checking it out.
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