Tombstoned - Tombstoned (Svart Records)

Do you like your stoner rock half-baked?
Release Date: 
14 Nov 2013 (All day)

What is this, some sorta joke? I suppose I did pick this one out just because, given the name of the band, the review practically writes itself. Incidentally, I propose a moratorium on any and all new band names including the words "witch," "wizard," or "mountain," for at least the next decade. Likewise, any releases involving (not so) clever puns on weed culture ought to be unceremoniously thrown into the fireplace. Belzebong was the last of these that I could earnestly appreciate.

So, onto Tombstoned, who probably came up with the name of their band before they ever picked up instruments. First track Through Days introduces us to the sound of a band riding grooves that Graveyard already rock harder, and a vocalist whose innumerable similarities with Robert Smith preempt any other notable comparison. Lacking the screechy wildness of Roky Erickson, the tortured power of Ozzy, or any defining characteristics of other generic touchstones, the vocals instead sound whiny and ineffectual. Though they're mixed low, I suppose to give them a "voice-as-instrument" quality a la Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, the vocals instead come off as timid, untested. Meanwhile, Daze of Disintegration offers somewhat baffling effects that recall '80s John Tesh drums as much as anything else. Guess they're meant to sound "spacey," or perhaps to recall some sort of Goblin cachet. Then that gives way to the sped-up, psych-freakout section. And holy crap, this song is nine minutes long, during which time the composition technique is as follows: slow part-fast part-slow part, ad infinitum. Next one up -- Rat Race. I cringe at the title alone. Nothing of original intent here.

Fittingly, given the slapdash feel of this whole thing, a song called The End appears at the midpoint of the album. There is also an unfortunate tendency toward entire passages motivated mainly by the use of different guitar effects that shows to me the mental age of these players -- ah, that's the flanger section, that's the wah-wah freakout, etc. Last Waltz actually starts and ends with nice, woozy grooves that are less Sabbath and more sunburnt western. But then it's more of those cloying, cliched words. The reverb on all vocals makes me feel like I'm listening to The Hanging Gardens here or something. Lyrics throughout are evidence of the insincere cannibalizing of thematic zeitgeists now far in the past. Kind of a headscratcher that these guys are favourites of the almighty Jus Oborn (Electric Wizard), but there you have it. 

Y'know, maybe this is some cynical experiment to see how many folks will buy into any band with a weed reference in their name and Sabbath riffs in their amps. Probably not. It's probably some young guys earnestly digging on old psychedelic rock, hoping to recapture some of those raw vibrations that still seem to resonate a half-century later. Unfortunately, it's them and about a thousand other bands, most of whom have better vocalists.