The AndroidVirus has come creeping round again, leaving this little ‘nugget *(and I use that word deliberately, for this fits right in with the “Nuggets” compilations of the 80’s) of modern day psychedelic/drone/prog-rock, by an act called THE WARLOCKS. While having never heard of the band, I still had a vague inkling that there may be a psych-drone element of some kind. Judging not just by the band’s name, but also the fact it’s called SKULL WORSHIP, the cover being that of a glistening, emerald green eyeball, nestled snugly in the center of a red flower, it all resting atop a white-clad, prayer-handed humanoid figure of some kind, an oddly colored vortex of mandalas meshing in the background. As today is a wake-n-baker anyway, this seemed like a good soundtrack to accompany that. However, I was expecting doom/drone metal, and that’s where I was pleasantly surprised: it wasn’t.
THE WARLOCK’S compose and perform a whirling blend of musical styles and sounds culled from an aesthetic of yore, all steadied by the backdrop of an acidic-dmt combination of sound fluctuations, all held together with a sonic drone-wall as thick and vast as the Cosmos itself; most of the songs running together, that incessantly oscillating drone keeps it together like glue. At a running time of just over 40 minutes, it’s more of a straight-through listen album than a song-by-song album, as it plays like one continuous song, with several different “pieces” that break it up *(eight to be exact).
It opens with “Dead Generation,” an anthemic, minor chorded, anxietied push of desperate sounding, straight-up ‘60’s Garage Punk *(I picked up on an early THE STOOGES type vibe), as with each consecutive set of measures a new instrument or element is added, until the *(depressed) caveman beat finally closes by collapsing in on itself *(much like the most potent of trips) and actually sluicing into the psyche-drone that dominates the rest of the album. *(Extra kudos, by the way, to “Dead Generation,” as it manages to capture the classick pre-’70’s ALICE COOPER GROUP guitar sound, dead on, and the similar general dark aesthetic in way I’ve never heard quite accomplished since, let alone even really tried). And the deeper the album falls into itself, the darker it gets, often hitting strange moments of simultaneous beauty and melancholy at once *(as some of those best trips do).
Apparently THE WARLOCKS have been around for some time now *(since 1998), leaving a series of shit record deals, creative difference disparages, and revolving-door member line-ups lying in the wake of vocalist/founder/composer Bobby Hecksher’s *(CHARLIE BROWN SUPERSTAR, DON KNOTTS OVERDRIVE – – – which yes, did indeed almost get them sued by Mr. Furley, forcing them to change the name to HEADSET – – – MAGIC PACER, as well as performing with BECK and the BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE) project. SKULL WORSHIP is their sixth full length, with several singles and ep’s tucked about here and there during meantimes in between.
Influentially you can hear traces of the VELVET UNDERGROUND, early PINK FLOYD, pre-stardom ALICE COOPER GROUP, H.P. LOVECRAFT *(the ‘60’s psychedelic band, not the writer – – – must I explain everything?), OZRIC TENTACLES, SPACEMAN 3, THE STOOGES, JESUS & MARY CHAIN, CAN, with even an odd touch of some FRANK ZAPPA-esque instrumentalism thrown in for good measure. The incessant droning that permeates the album’s rabbit-hole abyss atmospheres is also quite reminiscent of the electric-jug used by the 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS *(featuring ROKY ERICKSON) on their first album, that also wavers non-stop from beginning to end. This is truly heady stuff, in every sense of the word. For as long as THE WARLOCKS have been around, I’m surprised I’ve not come across them before *(perhaps I have to some capacity – – – who knows). It’s an interesting listen, and definitely a new one for that particular drone mood, when it doth arise.
And do not mistake “drone” as another way of my saying “doom” or “heavy,” because this is not metal; while incredibly dark and as achingly bleak at moments as it may be, this is through and through modern day psychedelic/garage rock, reinterpreted, specialized and enhanced with the ability of today’s technologies, as well as the impeccable musicianship and composition of the songs themselves. There’s no filler here – – – this is an all-meat performance. The drone trances you in and ensnares you in a web of soul-coldness, permeated by the bleak soundscapes of forlorn sadness and barely suppressed rage. As the album sheers, at it’s conclusion, with a backmasked piece *(titled “Eyes Jam”) and steadied drone-out into nothingness, that thickness of the Cosmos is broken down to a single-soundwave fade-out particle that echoes into the nothingness of forever.
Not for everyone, but definitely for fans of some of the above mentioned bands, and those with a taste and/or tolerance for the variety of seemingly ancient sounds, Oroboros’d around to the now. This is definitely for a certain mood and mindset, as well as minds opened in certain ways that will never shut. If you appreciate 60’s garage, drone, psych, or prog *(not in the traditional sense), I’d seriously give this a listen. On one final note, don’t think feedback’s not an art – – – it is, very much so, and a tricky one at that. Enjoy.
Pick up THE WARLOCKS, SKULL WORSHIP, and share a hookah of the ‘Stygian’ *(CONAN reference, you get it or you don’t) with the dead – – – it’s about that time of year anyway. Find them on Facebook, and check their page at http://www.thewarlocks.com/news.php
Vincent Daemon, writer, editor, musician, photgrapher, film/music buff and historian, and rabblerouser, can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 as well as his spontaneously updated blog of writing news and nonsense THE WRITINGS OF A DEPRAVED MIND http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/Some of his music can be painfully experienced at http://www.reverbnation.com/vincentdaemonsageofdesire3 His email is firstname.lastname@example.org