Friday, May 29, 2020
Sinister Haze - Laid Low in the Dust of Death (2016)
It gets a few meters up the slope before it stalls out, because there are some elements I do enjoy about it. I think the album sounds like it looks, proof of its own concept. I like the cover artwork, I love the band's name, and I think that stylistically they live up to that, only I wish they could do it with a little more musicality. The vocals are quite interesting and passionate, full of flaws as the guy fleshes out a limited middle range, but still evoking some passion and personality. Obviously a singer like Ozzy would be the starting reference point, but I felt a lot of other 60s and 70s fuzz and psychedelic rock creeping in there. Extremely bluesy, with some strained lines for heavy emphasis and also occasional effects that help it drift in step with the musical aesthetic. Another highlight is the lead guitar, which is constantly buzzing off into these trippy and tormented electrics which provided for me most of the real escape I'm hoping for on an effort like this one. The rhythm guitar riffs are quite generic in terms of chord progressions, but not unpleasant, and there are a few moments where they pick up and get a little jammier, with the drums grooving just a fraction harder. The bass tone is very thick and present, but also doesn't do much creative except anchor down the guitars, and match step with the acoustic, crashing drums that thunder below without any unexpected twists or turns.
This is the sort of album where, if you were to approach expecting nothing else but rudimentary, slow stoner rock played with a little more friction when it self-intensifies, you'd get what you bargained for, but I can't help feeling that about 50% more creativity would have gone a long way towards a more memorable experience. This would probably be best applied to the rhythm section, throwing us an off-center beat through the grooves. Maybe up the percussion used in the kit, go more tribal at points, add some fat bass lines that curve away a little further from the primary chords of the tracks. That might detract a little from the sporadic nature of laying out all these samey rhythms and creating a consistent hypnosis throughout the album, but in terms of potential musical value it would make up the difference. As it stands, Laid Low in the Dust of Death is rather tedious, barely more than what the doctor ordered, and if you've already heard any dozen of the other albums in this heavily saturated field then it's just the bare minimum of effectiveness.
Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]