ACHACHAK - HIGH MOUNTAIN
OUTLAW STONER ROCK METAL FROM CROATIA
If you have the jittery need for a strong toke of stoner metal, then this second long-player from Croatia’s Achachak might steady your shakes – or perhaps even enhance them. The word achachak apparently loosely translates as ‘spirit’ and derives from Native American. Indeed, High Mountain is more evocative of that continent and its wide horizons and long dusty roads rather than the leafy coasts of the Adriatic.
Achachak’s iteration of stoner rock has a strong emphasis on the rock part. This is not the funereal, lysergic meandering peddled by so many acts in the congested, hemp-scented stoner metal scene; instead High Mountain is amped up, groove-laden, post-Sabbathian rock with a Clutch-like drawl and super-woofer bothering density.
The opening title track takes a slow-cooker time to build up, but it leads to an ugly explosion of low-slung, crackly Iommi-esque groove and thunderously swaying blues metal riffs. It is delivered with scuzzy, fat, head banging volume with vocals that sound like a sonorous psychedelic recital over a burning effigy of Truckfighters. A cool and effective eastern-style quieter interlude is also promising early evidence that Achachak can offer contrast and shading to their songs.
Indeed High Mountain boasts a degree of variety in a genre that is notoriously confined stylistically. While Achachak can – and do – go down the fairly traditional approach of slower, lugubrious doom-weighted crawls with the monolithic maudlin crush of Lonewolf and the sleazier and serrated Captain Morning, they are prepared to experiment away from the stoner doom textbook. Maui Waui, for example, offers a sordid, sleazy bar boogie with its bummed out staccato smoky rock while the equally grizzled Bong Goddess is an aural greasy hangover. It sounds like an ode to bad living or is evocative of an insalubrious, overheated desert motel where patrons go to get up to no good.
Moreover, it takes the whole album to get there but the penultimate track, the dreamy, sunset-infused Biggest Wave could be drifting from a porch during a gentle sundown in rural Carolina with its sub-Clutch drowsy twanging and bucolic mellowness. Equally, the understated album closer Cozy Night is a smoked out and restrained late night peaceful gait with only the throaty whispered singing providing that soupcon of nefariousness. These last two songs are the band at their most chilled. Achachak are, however, arguably most at home with heavy Sabbath and QOTSA informed rockouts with the likes of Creator or the Supersuckers-esque tyre-smoking car chase of Lesson.
This is more dirty rock with a stoner edge rather than the other way around. There is an unrepentant and rebellious outlaw rock spirit at play with the defiant attitude of Orange Goblin or Truckfighters and the hypnotic groove of QOTSA and – how many times is it mentioned – Sabbath. Scuzzy, ballsy and a bit wired to stick in your pipe.