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Tuesday 2 August 2022

Reviews: Nebula, Forgotten, The Boppers, Undertow (Reviews By Rich Piva & Matt Bladen)

Nebula - Transmission From Mothership Earth (Heavy Psych Sounds) [Rich Piva]

Nebula never, ever disappoints. When a new Nebula album is announced, you pre-order that without a second thought. The band should always be considered with the desert rock founders/greats like Fu Manchu (that they broke off from), Kyuss, and whoever else you want to include in that conversation. Twenty-five years from their beginning, a new lineup has released what should be considered top tier Nebula rock with their latest record Transmission From Mothership Earth. The fuzz is here in all its glory and the psych leanings of the band are on full display with this record. 

Kicking off with Highwired, you get some fuzzy desert goodness, exactly what you expect from new Nebula, but kicking the psych into high gear. An awesome opening track that sets you up for quite the trip. The title track is a bit more of a slow burner psych trip, emphasis on the trip. This one is a bit all over the place in the best way possible. Love it. Wilted Flowers is another fuzzy slow burner heavy on the psych vibes and the track most likely to have been on one of their earlier albums, including some heavy fuzzed out guitar work. Melt Your Head does just that, the song lives up to the title with its wall of fuzz and almost slow-motion trip vibes. The room is definitely spinning. Warzone Speedwulf is my favorite track, bringing absolute killer riffage and serious old school desert rock vibes. Vintage Nebula. This track is desert/stoner playlist material for years to come. Did I mention the riff? A seven-minute journey that explores all corners of your messed up mind. 

The stoner anthem I got So High is fine, but if there is a clunker of this record this is it, but it is fine for what it is. A bit cliché for the stoner/desert crowd, but still a fun little song. Existential Blues is the most Sabbath Worship-like track on the record, with its heavy riffage and sweet bass work, while maintaining the trippy that Transmission From Mothership Earth brings throughout the eight tracks. Nebula has another fun, fuzzy, trippy record with Transmission From Mothership Earth that brings the riffs and the psych goodness in all of its glory. It is great to see this extremely important band back, reinvigorated, and in full super-duper high form. For longtime fans of the band or those just getting into Nebula, this is a must listen for desert/stoner rock aficionado. Make no mistake, high or not, this record rips. 9/10

Forgotten - Returnless (Sleazsy Rider Records) [Rich Piva]

Death/Doom monsters Forgotten are back to release their new full length, Returnless. The Turkish band have been around since the late 90s, but this is only their third full length album, going for a more quality versus quantity approach. Bands such as the heavier sides of My Dying Bride and Dark Tranquility are called out in promo materials, but do these guys live up to those big names they call out? The problem I have with this album is that it is not terribly memorable. It is good death/doom. Musically the record is good. Very cleanly produced and it sounds great. Songs like To A Returnless Path and the Forgotten Demon are top notch death/doom. 

I am not a huge fan of the growly vocals, but for what this album is it works. I am just not sure this is any better or worse than any of the hundreds of bands out there and it could be interchangeable with many of those death/doom bands slinging their wares. If you like the death/doom, this is worth a listen. I would be interested to hear if anyone could differentiate this with all the bands that are playing this style today. But if you are looking for some well-played and great sounding heaviness, try it out and let me know. There is nothing wrong with this, I’m just not sure I will go back to it or remember anything from it. 6/10

The Boppers - White Lightning (Wild Kingdom Records) [Matt Bladen]

Um? What am I listening too? This is primarily a rock and metal blog as you all know but I seem to have stumbled into some parallel world where rock means rock n roll, you know the 50's kind led by Elvis, Roy Orbison etc. That's what Swedish group The Boppers (name really gives it away really!) Have been playing against the norm since the punk explosion of 1977! It's the anachronistic style of music that has seen them become legends in Sweden, more than just an novelty act but one that is reveared for their commitment to their genre. 

Released to celebrate 45 years as a band White Lightning is a record where they have collaborated with with artists and bands that have inspired them but whom they have had a hand in inspiring too. Here they bring in Diamond Dogs frontman Sulo, rockabilly singer Eva Eastwood along with Nicke Andersson of The Hellacopters fame adding some stinging lead guitar, his solo on Motorbikin' as close to the Chris Spedding original as you can get, while Spedding himself turns up with his six string on the cove road Gene Vincent's Teddyboys Are Back. It's an idea to take things back to how they were at the beginning, hioeing that the guests that contribute to the album may bring new fans to this long running institution. Think of it as Hank Marvin guesting on a Dire Straits album and you'll be in the right ball park. 

Though The Boppers here have tapped back into that Wilco Johnson-like tenacity sounding as youthful as they did 45 years ago. The recruitment of legendary producer Tomas Skogsberg (The Hellacopters, Backyard Babies etc) has ensured that the album has modern/retro vibe to it. Tracks such as White Lightning having that warm vinyl fuzz but Gone For Bad meanwhile is crisp. If you e just shined your best set of brothel creepers, got your D.A waxed and are blasting bands such as Dr Feelgood, Stray Cats or Dave Edmunds then you'll be rocking out to The Boppers on no time. If however you're expecting blast beats then you'll be disappointed. 6/10

Undertow - Bipolar (El Puerto Records) [Matt Bladen]

Doom, gloom and misery all come through on German metal veterans Undertow. They can be mostly linked to the UK doom scene with Paradise Lost (Draconian Times era) with some US grunge coming on strong too. Bipolar is their ninth album and it's a brooding slab of emotionally fractured metal that draws from dark themes and doesn't shy away from the more downbeat styles. Opener When Tears Became Stars, brings that Paradise Lost thump and some raw vocals but with the smoky alt style of a band such as Alice In Chains, especially in the solo. The issue is that the vocals are nowhere near as good as either bands singers and the music is a little repetitive. 

At the other end of the other spectrum On Fire and Call Of The Sin are both powered by some thrashing though the big 90's metal style is very much audible on the grooving Life Kills and the devastating Shadows too which is pure doom goodness. Now I'm being positive about this record but the fact is, Bipolar isn't the most innovative album by any means, it's decent enough listen but they are very much a band that stick rigidly to their established style. Still after nearly 30 years I'm sure fans will lap this up and of you're a fan of the bands I've mentioned you'll probably like Bipolar and Undetow's sound. 6/10

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