Usually here at the vaunted Ripple Office, we like to start our reviews with a build-up, a story, some history, a metaphor. Something to ease into the review and perhaps lend a personal slant.
Not this time. All I can say is, damn, I like this one.
Coming from Sweden, by far the Ripple’s favorite mecca of music and hockey, comprised of one American singer-songwriter and four Swedish musicians, The Chair roar at you with an unadulterated blitzkrieg of raw ‘70’s metal riffs, raved up bluesy in execution and held together with more groove than could be found in an entire LP pressing factory. Released on the excellent Transubstans Records label, the fine Swedish purveyors of stoner/’70’s/psychedelic rock, this is balls-out, bottom heavy, riff-massive retro-rock, jet-fueled for a modern age and riding high on top the tsunami of melodies and just rough-enough lead vocals. Instantly addictive and full of more hooks than an a bait and tackle shop, this is every thing I love about rock and roll.
You may ask what separates this onslaught from that of the many excellent stoner/retro-70’s rockers out there, such esteemed bands that we’ve been raving about like Greenleaf, The Brain Police or the up-and-comers The Shame Club? First, I wouldn’t call The Chair stoner metal. Even though they mine a thick, seventies riff heavy vibe, and you certainly could get stoned to this if you choose, there’s a different vein to The Chair's brand of searing rock. Rather than following a Kyuss or Fu Manchu down the Sabbath highway, it seems like the boys jumped into their wayback machine, setting the dials to 1971 and emerged fresh-faced and wide-eyed in the heat of the proto-metal period. Digging on that lost vibe, where metal first began to show its ugly horns, The Chair fully enmeshed themselves in the passion, the forging of new pathways, the history of rock. While some Sabbath is there, there is also so much more.
Many long-time waveriders may know that I have a special place in my heart for proto-metal, exploring that obscure sound each month in my Proto-metal Report. But you don’t have to be a fan of lost metal to dig where these guys are coming from. One listen to the opening track “House,” should be enough to hook even the most jaded rock-head. With a single guitar riff, interrupted by a feedback drenched three-note lead, immediately dropping into a pulsating bottom end. This rock is vaguely familiar yet totally fresh. Chris Lee Smith's voice has a vaguely Jack Bruce tone to it, adding a hint of an amped up Cream to the band’s mix.
“September,” doesn’t miss a beat, thudding out next, infinitely thick and heavy like the marching steps of an oncoming herd of mastodons. The guitar’s of Kenneth Braman and Janne Lindgren chug through the verse until the chorus elevates the song to the heights. I dare you not to bob your head in time to this beat, go ahead, I dare you. “Slither,” does just what it's name implies, undulating out of the speakers, before that awesome retro-riff snakes across the intro. Peter “Stonebreaker,” on drums and Jam on bass anchor the groove, again, hinting at familiarity, yet new to the ears.
“Barn Burner,” pounds at you heavy and hard. Go ahead and insert your own influences here; Ted Nugent, Thin Lizzy, Mountain, early Kiss. It doesn’t matter. They’re all there and more, whipped up and stirred up and fermented into their tasty brew. “Sparkle,” a short stab of backwards-masked psychedelia leads right into the full on chugging riff of “Amp251.” With a groove thick enough to make my veins vibrate, this is sure to capture the attention of all riff-heavy new-70’s rock fans out there. Put these guys up on stage with Colour Haze and the Brain Police and I’ll be in my own little cloud of retro riff-mania nirvana. Bring in Mos Generator to open, throw in a Guiness and offer me eggs for breakfast and you’ll never get me to leave.
In the end, it’s the passion and belief that these guys bring to their heavy grooves that lifts them up in my ears. These guys just like to rock. I gotta admit, I‘ve seen a few less than favorable reviews of this disc, to which I can only say, the reviewers didn’t get it. Don’t go here looking for something new and groundbreaking, that’s not what they’re about. This is plain and simple ‘70’s hard rock revival, big, loud, goofy fun. Futuristic retro proto-metal. An aggressive blast from the past brought kicking and screaming into the present, leading us into the future on the back of a screaming Gibson. And I like anything that can get me pumped up and jazzed, cruising down by the beach with one arm hanging over the window of our Ripple convertible Ghia.
I don’t know what the boys mean by their name The Chair, but if this is what they can do, bring on the sofa and coffee table too. I’ll furnish my whole house in their crazy sound.
Check out all the Transubstans artists at www.recordheaven.net