Fair warning: Sonic Praise ideally is listened to on drives on late summer nights, when it’s too hot to think and too late to care. When all there is to do is drive and forget everything, or maybe remember too much.

With Sabbathian sludge back in vogue with both metalheads and the indie set, it is sometimes hard to judge whether the hype behind any new entrants into the Tony Iommi sweepstakes should be taken seriously. Ecstatic Vision would be particularly easy to dismiss thanks not only to the hype train surrounding the scene, but also due to the the band’s history. The lineup includes two former members of metalcore chameleons A Life Once Lost; that may be why Sonic Praise is such a powerful and welcome surprise.

Although the disc jacket is labeled starkly “primal heavy psych,” the group doe not owe their souls to Ozzy, or to any particular fad in particular. While their jams do take the soul of Hawkwind, they actually fall more in line with krautrock thanks to the truly mesmerizing bass work of Michael Field Connor and drummer Jordan Crouse, whose kit work is reminiscent of Stephen Morris. Frankly, they vibe so well on “Astral Plane” parts 1 through 3 that it would take a whole lot of awful layered on top of it to turn me against the band—and yet there isn’t any awful to be found. Singer-guitarist Doug Sabolick plays madman hippie, part Charlie Manson and party Lemmy Kilmister, barking in a ragged voice, “Don’t kill the vibe,” and taking any opportunity to rhyme ‘baby’ with ‘lady.’ His rhythm guitar is conservative and concise, almost a bit player compared to riffs of other prominent sludgemeisters. Sabolick’s solos are where things get serious: They spill out over the road built by Connor and Crouse like a fucked-up acid trip, all loose pills, sweaty dives, spilled beers and cheap sex. It’s generally as those solos dissipate that the real surprises reveal themselves: Sitars, hand drums, chanting and all manner of late-’60s psychedelia sneak in. And like Sabolick’s work on rythm guitar, it is conservative but integral, not absurd, tacky or oppressive.

A note of caution: You might have to pull over for album closer “Cross the Divide.” Crouse and Connor find nirvana in a spectacular groove that could very well be registered as an opioid.

Source: Sonic Praise – Ecstatic Vision

Sonic Praise - Ecstatic Vision

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