If ever a liner note could get our collective juices flowing juices more than the one gracing Norwegian outfit Masheena's Bandcamp page, for their album "West Coast Hard Rock", then we are yet to read it. The note states that "Masheena is based on a simple yet challenging mission: to honour the rich heritage of hard rock music by creating great songs that people can connect with", the key word in that statement is "hard rock", Masheena make no mention of stoner, doom, sludge or any of the other genres and sub-genres that have emerged over the the last 40 odd years, their statement categorically mentions "hard rock" and although there are traces of some of those other rock styles to be found among its eight songs it is "hard rock" that is this albums main driving force.
There is an element of Randy California's Spirit about opening track "1979", not so much in its riffs, which are harder and crunchier than anything Spirit committed to tape, but in its vocals which are a mix of clean lead and melodic backing harmonies, the resulting combination, blended with an unmistakable 70's classic/hard rock groove, giving the song a level of rock'n'roll catchiness rare in these days of growlers and screamers. "Under The Same Sun" follows and sees Masheena blending their 70's inspired heavy rock with a touch of heavy psych and just the merest hint of doom yet decorating those elements with a vocal that yet again carries a essence of Spirit's Randy California in its melodic execution. Up next is "Looks Like A Man" a story based opus that musically shifts between languid and sleazy and manages to hook you with both dynamics. Following number "Brings Me Down" is a song built around heavily fuzzed out guitar refrains and tight solid rhythms that as well as boasting yet another great vocal melody also features some scorching lead guitar work. Fans of 70's hard rockers Montrose will love next song "Five Seconds of Fame" while those who recall that every 70's album worth its weight in riffs had to also include a ballad will appreciate the inclusion of "Sun Remains". Elements of punk and new wave mixed with some good old hard rock and stoner fuzz is what makes up next song "Remember the Rain", vocals here are a little grittier than those that have graced this albums previous tracks and there is a touch more gnarliness to be found in its guitar tones, melody though is a major factor in Masheena's sound and this songs ear-catching chorus boasts a great one. Final song "Where Are You Now" finds Masheena moving away from catchy psych tinted melodic rock and swaggering 70's hard rock that has informed most of the album and getting down and dirty with some prog tinted proto-doom, exotic guitar motifs, thick dank reverberating riffage, growling bass and thunderous drumming serving as a platform from which the albums best vocal is launched, a fitting and spectacular, if rather brief, finish to what is a seriously impressive album.
"West Coast Hard Rock" is less an album name and more a description of the music contained within its grooves. Luis-Alberto Salomon (guitars and vocals); Ole Andre Farstad (guitars); Tarjei A Heggernes (bass) and Gerhard Herfindal (drums) may have spent their respective careers playing in bands that covered everything from black metal to world music but their understanding of what makes hard rock ROCK is off the scale!
Check 'em out ....
© 2023 Frazer Jones