Saturday 16 May 2020

SHOGUN ~ ADDENDUM ..... review

"Riffs upon riffs upon more riffs, straight from the cosmic cloud" is the legend that precedes any release from, Wisconsin groovemeisters, Shogun and the Milwaukee quartet deliver on that legend once again with their latest album "Addendum" an eight song opus chock-a-block full of crunching refrains and powerhouse rhythms all decorated in soaring clean, clear vocals.

Compartmentalizing bands into neat little boxes marked by genre is a great tool for journalist's, bloggers, podcasters etc. to give their readers/listeners a general idea of what to expect from a release, however that kind of falls down when you come across a band like Shogun who don't readily conform to those specific genre descriptions. Drop a needle anywhere on "Addendum" and you are just as likely to hit a groove that is grungy and alternative as you are one that's dank, dark and doomic and that is if you don't hit something classic rock flavoured or proto-ish and metallic. As their legend states Shogun love to jam on a riff but don't go thinking that is all they have in their armoury the band also know a thing or two about melody, pacing and dynamics something that gives their songs added substance as well as gravity. The first thing you will notice when giving "Addendum" a spin is the ferocity of Alvin Vega's drums, the man at the back is a virtual monster percussionist especially on the albums opener "Eos Archaea" where he almost plays his kit like a lead instrument. Vega is ably supported by Max Muenchow on bass duties the bassist locking down some growling bottom end and coming into his own on the grungy "Space Cleric" where he lays down the groove that holds the whole song together. For those who like their guitar solo's soaring, screeching and drenched in feel then look no further than Sam Wallman, the axe-man lays the crunch down when the crunch is needed and fills the spaces in-between with some fiery lead work, he is also no shrinking violet when it comes to playing acoustically either as the beautifully picked "Cascade" will testify to. Vocal duties fall to Joe Widden and he does not disappoint,  his vocals are strong clean, melodic and blessed with a clarity that has become a rather rare commodity these days, at the top of his register he can howl like a rock god of old, as he proves on the excellent "Dread Haze", but he also possesses a warm weariness at the other end of his vocal spectrum that is demonstrated to great effect on the lilting and folkish "Gilgamesh".

"Addendum" has come as a bit of a surprise to many of us who feverishly search the web for news of new releases, tours etc. many of  us so called movers and shakers, who write, report and host podcasts telling everyone about what's hot and what's not, didn't even know that Shogun had gone into a studio, let alone were releasing a new album. In a time when we are consistently being bombarded by so many unwanted surprises (Covid 19) it is nice to get one we do want.
Check it out …..

© 2020 Frazer Jones

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