Humulus – The Deep (Kozmik Artifactz, 28 February 2020)
If you couldn’t tell from the band name (humulus are the plants which grow the flowers we refer to as hops), that very cool cover art of a cephalopod holding up a beer bottle may clue you in: this Italian trio is birra-obsessed.
In fact, in the first ten years since their formation, these Lombardi gentlemen have put as much passion and effort into the development of their own self-titled brew as they have into creating three albums and EPs. So while their sound on this fourth release The Deep (released just a few days ago) may superficially resemble the style universally known as “stoner rock,” wouldn’t it make much more sense to call this “alcoholic rock”?
The album kicks off with the classic fuzzy grooves of “Devil’s Peak (We Eventually Eluded Death)” which will immediately grab the attention of listeners who are fans of Borracho or Clutch, to name a few — particularly the latter because of the way Humulus are employing a similar story-telling style. This leads into the more up-tempo stomper “Gone Again” that brings to mind yet another alcohol-soaked stoner-rock/metal band, Red Fang.
For a while, though, the band steps beyond the core influences that are perpetual standards of the genre. “Hajra” takes a quieter, mellower journey into the realm of old-school psychedelia before taking a detour through the land of heavy doom riffs. “Into the Heart of the Volcano Sun” delves even deeper into 60s psychedelia, evoking the drug-addled explorations of The Doors (especially the echoey organ sound that emerges between the six- and seven-minute marks of the track, not to mention the semi-melodic poetic vocal delivery that enters shortly thereafter).
Speaking of vocal delivery, the relatively brief “Lunar Queen” continues the previous two songs’ trend of gentle, deep-bassy talk-singing — but here to a much greater extent; underscored by an understated acoustic dark-folk accompaniment very much in the vein of the solo efforts of Steve Von Till (among others). And finally, “Sanctuary III” (at about fifteen minutes, the lengthiest of the bunch) closes everything out with a return to mellow psychedelia, trans-oceanic exploration, and of course epic fuzzed-out and spaced-out riffage.
* * * * * * *