Let me get the pun out of the way first. Following their brief breakup in 2014, after releasing their excellent self-titled debut, BEELZEFUZZ were “Reborn” in 2015 with a new bass player, Bert Hall, and the addition of Greg Diener on backing vocals and guitars joining founding members Dana Ortt (who I motion should be referred to henceforth as “Jesus of Nazriff”) and Darin McCloskey. The addition of Diener’s textural guitar work and vocal harmonies have made a major mark on BEELZEFUZZ’s sophomore effort, The Righteous Bloom, out August 19 on Restricted Release/Abstract Distribution in the US.
I don’t like using the term “stoner” metal as I feel it makes unfair implications about the creators and consumers of such music, but if any band would buck the trend of dime-a-dozen fuzz/doom bands, it would be BEELZEFUZZ. Superficially, they carry many of the hallmarks of the genre: the fuzzy, chunky guitar sound and groovy, yet understatedly intricate rhythm section should place doom fans right at home. Ortt’s strong, yet ethereal voice is a welcome change from the hoarse bearded gremlins who we find too-often yelling into the mic and drowning out that all-important doom element – the riffs!. While I’m not a huge adherent of the genre, I LOVED the self-titled album, and those of you who do will not be disappointed either. They can anticipate a record that both expands and evolves on that sound – in fact, you can stop reading right here and dive on in!
For the rest of you, no botanical beguilement is necessary to appreciate the spellbinding album that the Maryland foursome have put forth. Rather, it is capable of transporting a sober listener out of time and space into a swirling sonicscape from which they will jerk out of 45 minutes later feeling like they’ve been to the stars and back. Though most bands of this ilk draw their genesis quite openly from BLACK SABBATH, it seems almost as though BEELZEFUZZ have drunk from the same well of inspiration as their British brethren, bringing us an album that feels like an undiscovered gem from the 70’s flavored with some prescient inspiration from newer bands such as PENTAGRAM.
If it wasn’t clear already, it seems quite counterintuitive to break The Righteous Bloom apart song-by-song. While it claims no pretense to being a concept album, I’m hard-pressed to think of one that flows better than this one does, almost feeling like one giant, sprawling track at times. However, there are catchy riffs aplenty to be found, and the endlessly memorable guitar work in songs like the title track or “Within Trance” illustrate the BEELZEFUZZ boys’ rock-solid songwriting chops. The songs do have a defined structure apart from each other, don’t get me wrong. And since the album is not a concept record, you can listen to the tracks in any order, starting and stopping at any point, and still get a good feel for it.
Listening to the songs in order is highly recommended, though, as the pacing of the album is a major highlight, starting with more straightforward hard rockers such as “Nazriff” and “Hardluck Melody” slowly unraveling, in a good way, into more spacey, psychedelic territory as the disc progresses. What a treat! Memorable moments punctuate the overarching journey, like the sublime transcendental beauty of the title track’s outro, or the intro of “Nebulous”, which reminds me of the black hole from Part 1 of RUSH’S “Cygnus X-1”. In closing, I eagerly and without reservations encourage all fans of psychedelic music, 70’s hard rock, or any of the above to check out The Righteous Bloom posthaste. As for me, I regretfully have to turn it off, or I’m going to miss my deadline. Maybe one more spin won’t hurt…
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM