Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ogre - The Last Neanderthal

Finally some kind of balance has been restored in my life. After a hiatus, broken only by a couple of reunion shows, Maine's finest, Ogre, are back kicking and screaming. Whenever a band I like come back from retirement I am obviously excited but at the same time I am leery, thinking "will this be up to par with their previous releases, or will it crash and burn?" This feeling came over me regarding 'The Last Neanderthal' although I quickly learned there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. The moment the album kicks in, it's like Ogre never went away.

Full tilt and to the point, 'Nine Princes In Amber' picks up where the instrumental opener 'Shadow Earth' left off. Heavy and fast, it burrows through mountains shattering them to dust and it also shows the band still embraces their penchant for heavy 70's rock. 'Bad Trip' follows and like a bad trip the song goes through all the motions. Slow, heavy, fast, claustrophobic, brutal and schizophrenic with a dollop of Black Sabbath, it rips me apart limb by limb. Guitarist Ross Markonish is in excellent form producing a blistering solo amidst some very deft riffing. Psychedelic undertones flows through the doominess of 'Son Of Sisyphus' where bassist Ed Cunningham's voice enhances the trippiness. He sounds like the bastard child of Ozzy and Bon Scott and I love it!

'Soulless Woman' is a cover of an Ogre song! Well, this other Ogre from Idaho were active in the early 70's and although it's slightly different from the rest of the album, it fits in good and Maine-Ogre has definitely turned it into their own. Punishing excellent doom runs through 'Warpath' with drummer Will Broadbent leading the way allowing Markonish and Cunningham free reign and it's damned good. Spacey, lofty and almost southern rock in approach instrumental 'White Plume Mountain' allows you to breathe and relax for a couple of minutes until it segues into closer 'The Hermit' which keeps a slower pace akin to the previous track. However, doom creeps in gradually making it a somewhat darker tale, although Ogre actually assimilate quite a bit of psychedelica into the second half of it. The solos Ross delivers on this last song are out of this world and defintely helps to elevate 'The Last Neanderthal' to a place above the rest.

Ogre are in magificent form uopn their return having recorded a crushing monster of an album. For any band to release something like it, whether it's their debut or their fifth album, are different in the best possible way. They play in a league way ahead of the rest and set standards that few can emulate. And that's exactly where Ogre are. To come back after all these years and annihilate like they do shows that these Maine heavy-hitters are back where they belong...and I couldn't be happier!

- Swedebeast

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