ALBUM REVIEW: REVEREND MOTHER – DAMNED BLESSING
RETRO PSYCHEDELIC ROCK WITH NEW YORK COOL
There has recently been a bottleneck of releases that sit decidedly within the musical extremities and with so many blastbeats and screams still reverberating in the masonry, the prospect of changing pace and doing some trans-dimensional time travel into the trippy realms of stoner rock is not unwelcome. Reverend Mother, formerly known as Priestess, come from New York and play a modern spin on psychedelic 60s/70s Black Sabbath or even The Doors and Damned Blessing is their debut long player.
Much of what gets labelled as stoner doom is all too often trope-drenched, standard issue retro-fetishism, defiantly self-restrictive in scope and aesthetic. That is all fine if lack of imagination is trumped by quality and gusto…but unfortunately it is usually a game of How Many Bands Can Play the Same Record and Get Away with it. Is Damned Blessing another fuzzy headed copycat? The sleeve art suggests it could be, but the opener How to Serve Man demonstrates that Reverend Mother have too much gallus swagger and rock attitude to be sleepy stoner plods. The tracks starts in pretty familiar style with swaying retro doomy blues and saturnine plucks of melancholia but soon conflagrates into a blood pumping, cascading midway solo. The band hit a cocky stride with the confidently undulating Locomotive and the greasy Reverend Mother with its elasticated, bulging bassy riffs while the rebellious energy of Road to Lose is laced with harmonica flourishes and could accompany a classic 70s car chase scene.
Reverend Mother have a tendency to lace their work with occasional leftfield psychedelic curiosities and Damned Blessing has a few bemusing moments. The somnambulant instrumental interlude of Funeral March sounds nothing like it’s title, being a kind of sun-bleached, zoned-out desert session strum while the bizarre gothic-western funeral procession of L.V.B. with its lurching cello and violin is reminiscent of the shambolic regret of Brian Jonestown Massacre. The cover of Brittney Spears’ Toxic is bastardised beyond recognition from the original being a burnt out, care-free snarly head banger of warped upbeat doom. Otherwise, the band remain in more sludgy blues familiarity with the languid hungover Shame and the long fuzzed out self-pitying Masochist’s Tie with its nifty vintage bluesy twiddles and down-tuned trudging.
Reverend Mother are more than competent. Jackie Green’s vocals sound supremely confident whether it is her Ozzy-esque delivery that approaches caterwauling (but avoids being jarring) or her more direct attitudinal, feline rock drawl. It is a good vocal performance while there are some cool woozy, head nodding vintage riffs that rarely gets boring. There is a lot of potential too and you can’t help but suspect that Reverend Mother, though not the finished article, have the imagination to repurpose a knackered old rock template and develop into a greater stage.
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