WAND return in 2015 with a follow up to their 2014 debut with a second crushing space rock epic. Golem comes released on vinyl by In The Red Recordings and on cassette by Riding Easy Records.
This time around, the Los Angeles-based crew switches up the formula compared to their previous LP, but only so slightly. There’s a certain, terrifying notion of apocalyptic doom on Golem, something that was not present in Ganglion Reef. They combine these doom-metal influences with their already developed psych-punk-pop, there’s just very little to consider “pop” this time around. A good way to start: if you haven’t seen these guys live in the flesh, just do it. You will be floored.
“The Unexplored Map” kicks off in a storm cloud of haze, spilling over into the fiery bowls of hell with wigged-out guitar squealing that’s guided by frontman Cory Hanson’s distinctly boyish tone. “Reaper Invert” offers your first true look at these alarming doom-metal tendencies, where growling beams of guitar are abuzz in a swirling layer of palpable sludge. With just a few simple chords they invoke this looming sense of danger, creating a menacing backdrop for a completely twisted guitar solo. They change gears in “Melted Rope” and it turns out to be the record’s strongest entry. It’s a clearheaded space rock lullaby complete with a weeping and warbled guitar solo doused in a glowing layer of neon fuzz – if music had bioluminescence, this would be the penultimate example. The 4-minute track is, dare I say – perfect – and built warmly with acoustic guitars and an unbelievable progression that keeps you floating right into its gravitational pull. As the melodic guitar bridge kicks in, it becomes engulfed by glimmering effects and gooey organs that wrap it in a gorgeous cocoon of vibrant color.
“Cave In” and “Flesh Tour” both showcase some added doom/ stoner metal qualities, stemming from deep guitar grumbles to high-pitched and soaring solos – a description that does neither track justice. “Floating Head” is a skull-splitting affair, starting off with some roaring guitars as Hanson shines through and leads the way. His voice morphs into a ghostly strobing echo and trails inward and out, providing depth as the instruments gear up to speak for themselves. Glowing guitars dual and communicate with each other like an alien transmission detected in outer space before being swallowed by a thick wave of impenetrable fuzz. “Planet Golem” is the most intimidating track on the record, pounding you into dust under the weight of thrashing guitar screams. They proceed by flooding the track (and simultaneously your ears) in a seething torrent of sharp, scaly noise and screeching. This explosive finish paves the way for “The Drift.” It is an electronically-dominated album closer swept into a swift and technicolor realm as if you were witnessing the northern lights weave through the milky way itself. Hanson coos through the anthem – “this world is unfair/ and now I don’t care” – wrapping up the LP on a glossy stream of icy cool psychedelia.
If you’ve been missing out on Golem, start with the re-recorded version of “Self Hypnosis in 3 Days” (from their split 7″ with Inutili on Aagoo/ Goodbye Boozy Records) right below. The YouTube video underneath streams the remainder of the album. Happy listening.
My Rating: SS
Genre/ Tags: Psychedelic, Punk, Pop, Doom, Metal
Golem LP: Tracklist:
1.) The Unexplored Map
2.) Self Hypnosis in 3 Days
3.) Reaper Invert
4.) Melted Rope
5.) Cave In
6.) Flesh Tour
7.) Floating Head
8.) Planet Golem
9.) The Drift