There’s a lot of pressure on stoner rock bands in 2020. Having had an incredibly successful decade, we now look to the future of the genre and, being in a reflective mood, see what we want to keep and what to dispose of. With emerging bands it’s very interesting to see what they’ve kept and what has fallen by the wayside.
Sound Of Origin are a good study in modern stoner rock. Their influence is pretty obvious – shades of Sleep, Monster Magnet and swampy grunge all share common space. Their heavy, bluesy sound is throaty and intense, eschewing too-obvious stoner tropes for more involved pieces – dense blues riffs snaking over the drums, dropping out and then back in, changing the energy. They don’t so much cycle through riffs as they do general ideas, creating a thick and mercurial mix of material.
The album balances high and low energy well, but it’s pleasing to see the light stuff isn’t just textural psych as it could so easily be. Instead, it crackles with tension even in the quieter moments, waiting for the riff waves to come crashing down. It’s a good look for a stoner band to use these disparate elements in this way, proof that you don’t need to do anything wacky to make a forward-thinking, modern record.
These weirder elements are balanced carefully with some very satisfying, heavy elements. Thunderous guitar tones and vocals ranging from the trapped-in-a-well style that seems to come so well from Skyhammer Studios to some ’90s grunge yarling. This is so important – hook us in with satisfying stuff and you have a lot of scope to go off and be as strange as you like.
Sound Of Origin fly pretty close to the wind with some of their influences, but they also use a lot of the deeper structural techniques to their advantage. They’ve got the Sleep technique of balancing loose stuff with tight bangers, and they’ve mastered the tension/release style perfectly, allowing the big riffs to hit harder, an excellent example being ‘Stoned Messiah Blues’.
There is a lot on display here, and The All Seeing Eye definitely benefits from multiple listens. In some cases the variety is a little overwhelming, and the diversity on the record does strain sometimes from a virtue to a vice; their sound is just a shade too muddled, and would benefit from a sharper knife at the editing stage of songwriting. Nonetheless, more often than not it’s not particularly distracting, and in any case it’s a good problem to have going forward.
The band’s strong sonic identity more than makes up for any muddiness; their debut is an extremely positive start, and a promising vision for the future of the genre.
The All Seeing Eye is out 21st August on APF Records. Order here.
Words: Tom Coles