Ukranian stoner rock band STONED JESUS were certainly not going for subtlety when choosing their name. In 2010, they released their very well-received debut, “First Communion,” and 10 years later on August 21st, 2020, the album will be re-released via Napalm Records. Having never personally dipped into the deep, sticky ooze of droning grungy stoner rock, this album promised to be an interesting experience.
The album begins with its longest track, “Occult,” which begins with some spoken-word recordings before opening into some pure BLACK SABBATH distortion. This is no psychedelic music, my friends, this is pure stoner sludge. You’ll be given ample time to listen to this simple melody throughout the song, even though it disperses a while to pursue new riffs when the vocals appear, which are raw and wailing. There is a lot of interesting riffing going on in general in this track, as is the nature of stoner sludge, though there’s certainly a degree of the guitar-work in here that makes it understandable why this album was worthy of a re-release. Before the 6½ minute mark, the song takes a sharp turn and picks up the tempo, with more melodic vocals layered on top of quick riffs. There’s plenty of time left in its 10-minute runtime to impress you, however. I fully confess to hearing the first few minutes and getting bored, but as the song progresses, it genuinely gets more diverse and interesting, to the point that I was enraptured by the end.
The gritty deep bass and drums continue with “Red Wine,” as the guitar lines join in the fray to add flavor. The bass is definitely a highlight of this track, but is that not always the case with these reverberating stoner bands? This is the only “short” song on the album, at a mere 5(ish) minutes, and is also included again in its stripped down, even more gritty demo version at the end of the album. “Black Woods” is a good depiction of another strong BLACK SABBATH influence, this time shown in the vocals, though of course you can hear bits of it elsewhere as well. There’s a laid-back rise and fall to the sound built around those droning riffs. To change things up, “Falling Apart” offers both a bass solo and an exploratory bass lead. This piece also includes vocal recordings of a woman, somewhat hysterical, speaking over top of the music for a fair while.
If stoner music is your jam, but you’ve missed out on this Ukranian trio, now is the time to catch yourself up. Don’t be misled by your smoke-dazzled desire for excitement, for this album is full of secrets that only patience can reward. Everything that may have put me off at first glance rewarded me once it was given time to drone its way into my conscious mind. This was my first real deep-dive into a sludgy album and if this is what it feels like, I’m in no rush to get clean!
Written by Bear Wiseman
- Red Wine
- Black Woods
- Falling Apart
- Red Wine (demo version)
Igor – vocals, guitars
Sid – bass, backing vocals
Dmitry Zinchenko – drums