Saturday 6 June 2020

DOPE SMOKER ~ ZEROIN ...... review

Just hearing a few chords of an AC/DC song and without looking at the artwork or sleeve notes you know it's them, the same is true of Santana, Led Zeppelin and The Who as well as many others. It is what many call a signature sound, a sound that others can try to replicate but can never quite nail. Welsh trio Dope Smoker are also possessors of such a signature sound, theirs is slightly more grizzled and distortion drenched than those bands mentioned but it is theirs and no-one else sounds quite like them, just spin their latest album "Zeroin" to see what we mean.

Repetitive, crackling, fuzz soaked guitar chords, booming bass lines and steady rock solid drumming are the hallmarks of any Dope Smoker recording, add into that equation minimal lyrical content, sang in clean mantra-like fashion, and the occasional slightly dissonant swirling guitar solo and that is this review pretty much written. However those few lines do not tell you everything you need to know, for a start they don't tell you that despite the repetitive nature of Dope Smoker's songs there is a lot more going on than first hits the ear. Much like the surfers, who frequent their south western corner of Wales, Dope Smoker ride their riffs on waves and swells, take for instance the song "Bush Woods", it may be built around one refrain repeated infinitum but that refrain swells and dissipates both in intensity and volume throughout and when combined with those vocal mantra's and psychotic swirling guitar solo's, we mentioned earlier, the song becomes so much more than just a one riff wonder, it becomes something almost spiritual. Having said that the new album does find Dope Smoker stepping out of their comfort zone far more than they have done on previous recordings, the band adding subtle shades and colours into songs, like the excellent title track "Zeroin" and the swirling "Severn", that they may not have even considered attempting a few years ago, the band even going so far as to get a little weird and arty on the aptly titled "Stoned Nirvana"

Dope Smoker have delivered what we all wanted with "Zeroin", an album that doesn't stray too far from the blueprint the band drew up with their first release "Dope Smoker" yet one that shows they are nonetheless evolving, if somewhat slowly and with subtlety.
Check it out .....

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