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Sons of Otis
X

SS-052/2005

Ken Baluke: Guitar & Vox
Frank Sargeant: Bass
Ryan Aubin: Drums

Recording by Billy Anderson @ Church Of Despair.
Mixed By Billy Anderson & Ken @ Number 9 Audio.
Additional Tweaking & Mastering by Gary Honess @ Number 9 Audio.
Produced by Ken for Pipes & Pills Productions.
Art by Ken & Roman Sokal.
Additional Art by Mike Saputo.

Reviews for X...

METAL DOMINATION (Greece)

If i am not mistaken, because the official site of Sons of Otis isn't working, "X" is their third album. The band comes from Canada and "X" is their first album through their label Small Stone Records. I don't know if you have in mind which is the music that the band delivers in their latest album, but they are definitely in the doom metal path but with a little bit more extreme and slower phase. To have a picture with the music from Sons of Otis, you can imagine a mixture of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Electric Wizard (a lot) and Queens of the Stone Age and with a lot of their personal sound and we will have this very good piece of music. Personally i had month to hear good doom metal release. Actually the latest was the new album from Electric Wizard and when i heard this one; i said that this is for sure the best album for the past months in the doom metal scene.

Maybe until the new Candlemass album will be out, in a month if i am not mistaken. For sure the fans of doom metal will love Sons of Otis and i wish someday to have the opportunity to hear their early releases. Please do a favor to your self and check this album immediately. Thanks to Small Stone Records, who they release this very good album.

Rate: 9/10

Antonis Maglaras
May, 2005
www.metaldomination.net

THE CUTTING EDGE

TorontoĂs SonĂs of Otis return with a seven tracker throbbing with juicy, fat and plodding minor chords perfect for a night of stargazing. The trioĂs wicked spaced-out jams rumble through the seven-minute ˘Way I Feel÷ to the 14-mintue psychedelic thriller ˘Liquid Jam÷ with cerebral numbing. Consisting of Frank Sergeant (bass), Ryan Aubin (drums) and Ken Baluke (guitar, vox), the three harness the power of the cosmos, drop into a hypnotic haze and push forward with a pulsating rhythm that is equally dense and mesmerizing.

Throughout the record BalukeĂs vox is pushed to the back and affected with plenty of echo while his guitar weaves in and out from bone-sapping sludge to aerial bombs that drop in for maximum impact. Both ˘Relapse÷ and the hardly recognizable Steppenwolf cover, ˘The Pusher÷ benefits from BalukeĂs tear-drop guitar in such a way that the stoned-out Š70s come more alive here than the original. ˘1303÷ is one of those slow, burning numbers that gets in your head and stays for days. Brutally heavy, it sets sail on an endless voyage with piercing guitar feedback that sews the whole damn thing together with a silver lining.

˘Help Me÷ has a similar feel as the riff finds a fussy groove and the bass locks in on a crushing backbeat. BalukeĂs voice hails from the distance while the guitar becomes the engine that moves the song through rhythmic mire. Darkness falls as ˘Eclipse÷ reaches out from a nebula behind the son. Arid and spacey, the track moves through a series of echoes and montage of hallucinogenic sounds capes. Then comes the feedback to carry you away on wings of atomic haze.

Todd Smith
May, 2005
thecutting-edge.net

COSMIC LAVA

It's been four years ago, since SONS OF OTIS last album "Songs For Worship" had been released by The Music Cartel, and when I listen to it today, I can't help but it still gives me the certain feeling, that this band could've done it so much better. Not, that it was a worse album, but I missed strong and convincing songs as they did it with the mighty "Templeball" album or the amazing debut "SpaceJumboFudge", what can be called the sludgiest space-doom album of all times. After they had changed the record label again from The Music Cartel to Detroit finest Small Stone Records, it's time for the next chapter, simply entitled "X". First, the new album isn't as impressive as "Templeball" was, but it contains some excellent cuts, where the band shows again that they are still unique and have created a characteristic effective sound during the last ten years. Their spaced-out doom blues is earthy as fresh clay and heavy like a steamroller, but they have the ability to ignore gravity and create massive dark sonic galaxies. Not much has changed here and all the things we love (or hate) about this trio are in best place, as the weighty riffs that are drenched in a black Hendrix/St.Vitus brew and the heavy tripped-out vocals from guitarist Ken Baluke. His riffs are powered by best vintage tube amps that generate such an impressive warm and thick tone, while his charismatic vocals are sounding as angry and lysergic as a Dave Wyndorf, who's suffering on an overdose of stereoids. Some of the here included highlights are definitely the long instrumental "Liquid Jam", and sometimes I wished that Ken Baluke comes up with more guitar-solos like here, because he got the skills to play very intense and melodic stuff. He's no outstanding technician, but he got the right feeling (or the blues...), what's more important than anything else. Another song's called "Help Me" and it should destroy you (in a good way). Well paced and well performed like the complete album. Another instrumental cut is "Eclipse", very Melvins-like but more spaced-out, and maybe one of the scariest songs this band had ever written, what makes the title real appropriate. The first minutes of "Relapse" are sounding very oriental, before the whole song drifts into darkest Vitus-regions with its slow crushing riffs. Once again, the band had included a cover-version to the album's track-list, and after Jimi Hendrix and Saint Vitus this time it's the Steppenwolf classic "The Pusher", which the band plays in their very own OTIS-style. It would've been better, if they had included an unknown song, because "The Pusher" had been already released as a 10" a few years ago. Anyway, it's good to know that SONS OF OTIS are back with a strong new album and if you dig the previous releases you'll love "X".

Klaus Kleinowski
April, 2005
www.cosmiclava.de

THE AQUARIAN

When the universe expands to the point that it can no longer sustain itself and matter begins to tear apart, I expect it will sound something like Sons Of Otis. Methodical, slow, unbelievably heavy and uncompromisingly spaced out jams permeate through the speakers, oozing out riff after riff of distorted stoner metal like molten rock seeping out of a long-active volcano. Truly something to behold.

The record is challenging in the sense that there is absolutely zero commerciality to it. ItĂs not really all that accessible, and I wouldnĂt consider it anything near mainstream, even as far as metal goes, but if youĂre initiated into the church of drone, then I would think there would be plenty here worth your time.

A lot of the time the trouble with albums like X is the production, which is either too clear to be believable or muddy to the point of indecipherability. Billy Anderson (High on Fire, Melvins, Neurosis, Weedeater, on and on) reins in the band long enough so that the songs are coherent and together, but basically stops there. As a result, X should please even the most discerning of space doom fans.

JJ Koczan
March, 2005

AURAL INNOVATIONS

Sons of Otis are Canada's answer to Italians stoner head fuck band, Ufomammut. This is the bands fifth release and shows no sign that they are becoming mainstream, despite a cover by the classic Steppenwolf! If you want happy music you better run far from this CD. This stuff is dark, heavy, evilly stoned and moves slow as molasses at times. This is challenging music and you must prepare yourself mentally before stepping off the plank into the unknown with Sons of Otis. The tracks are all long here with only 2 under 7 minutes and the last over 14 minutes! "Way I Feel" starts the CD off in a pounding slow groove (if you can call it that) and really far out vocals with massive delay, as the wall of sound flows. I really liked the cool guitar that opens "Relapse", but then it enters into a groove and mood nearly the same as the opening track. Still some cool stuff mixed in. "1303" is next and begins with a heavy distorted bass that just pounds endlessly and the vocals really trip you out. I was pretty taken back by the heroin version of "The Pusher". I love the original song but this is a bit too stoned. I have to say it is a unique version. The guitar sound that starts off "Help Me" is really cool. This is the only slightly upbeat rocking track on the CD. You need a number like this to kick you back to life once you enter into this world. The last two tracks really blow your mind if you get into these mindfuckers. Take some drugs and go off into the cosmos with Sons of Otis. You may never be the same.

Scott Heller
AI #30 (February 2005)
www.aural-innovations.com

HIGH BIAS

This must be what it sounds like when Galactus gets a fix. After he's sucked on the bong of his big-ass machine that just relieved some densely populated planet of all its life energy, he lolls around his space ship, gazing at the stars that comprise his kingdom. He eventually nods off, but not before hurtling a few junk-garbled grand pronouncements out into the void. But even at the apex of his high, the Great Devourer sweats more power than the biggest nuclear plant ever conceived by pissant mortals. You might be able to sidle up for a closer look when he's on the nod, but don't poke at him, or he'll vaporize you without blinking.

Michael Toland
February 27th, 2004
www.highbias.com

ABSOLUTE METAL

Canada's Sons Of Otis bring in the Doom from up north on their third full length album. Slow, resonating Sleep-collided-with-Grand Magus riffs, thick slabs of guitar dripping with bluesy psychedelic leads. The vocals are pretty decent, not too abrasive, and you can actually make out words. I swear they're using the bassline from "Born Under A Bad Sign" in "The Pusher", and they show some serious Hendrix love on "Liquid Jam", a 14+ minute musical trip. "Eclipse" is a long, slow, beautifully doomified instrumental. If you dig the doom, you need this album.

Wolfie
February, 2005
www.absolutmetal.com

LOLLIPOP MAGAZINE

... if you took a traditional doom band fed it a steady diet of Robin TrowerĂs slow arcing post Hendrix shoegazer blues ballads like ˘bridge of sighs÷, or ˘I canĂt wait much longer÷ and pointedĂm towards Monster MagnetĂs ˘Tab÷ you could spill a bong in ˘X÷Ăs paneled basement and hit at least two of the guys. So, now that weĂve defined the parameters perfectly lets talk specifics.

OK, hum one of your favorite songs and have some one ˘line draw÷ a representation of it. Do it like that heartbeat thing in the hospital. Go ahead. Cool huh? This way your shared taste/knowledge wonĂt hamper the creative impulse re: rhythmic riff-pulse. Meaning you canĂt just go ˘do the Bo Diddley beat÷, or ˘do the hardcore polka beat÷, with some stuff; itĂs too specific. If you said I wanna do a song kinda like the Stooges, ˘loose÷, or FlipperĂs, ˘sacrifice÷ or The Misfits, ˘london dungeon÷, your smarty pants pals would be right on it cloning away.

Sons Of Otis do just that. Not the cloning part, the line-drawing-reference-sketch part. Reality made apparent, (a cd), is what weĂre after right? They take a sketch of a riff or rhythmn from the general rock language, wozzel the shit out of it, cover it in echo-what-not goop, throw a guitar factory of a single note at it, anything to get the essence right. This shit is really unshakeable. Abso-fucking-lutely no ˘pop÷ appeal for the fellow traveler. Ever see a kilo of cocaine? i have--itĂs fucking amazing. You canĂt get your head around it at first- then youĂre like, oh itĂs just like an amazing amount of a little bit of something I saw on Cops once. Yeah, and it packs the consequential bang of a basic thing taken to itĂs supernova conclusion. ˘It÷ resides @ www.smallstone.com

See also: Melvins, early Robin Trower, Ufomammut, Boris.

Craig Regala
February, 2005

Doom-metal.com

It seems as if underground metal is more and more extreme these days, with sludge and death elements infiltrating the stoner/doom community left and right. I've got my share of faves with all that, but I'll tell you that its damned refreshing to get a new album from blues space doom stalwarts Sons of Otis that is a smart continuation of everything they've done right in the past, with heavy nods back to the glory days of the late 90s. The lesson here is that you might improve it if it ain't broke, but you sure as hell don't need to fix it.

The album's title, 'X,' is a reference to the fact that Sons of Otis have been recording in one form or other for 10 years, despite an almost unbelievable string of bad luck that some might term "The Otis Effect." Labels going bad, industry duplicity, and an ever-changing series of drummers that has solidified only in the past few years tells only part of the story. And despite the group's name, which refers to a character in the almost pornographically violent and depressing classic movie 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer,' the ever-evolving Sons of Otis tale is that of a group reaching for the doomed mysteries of deep space, aided by a pharmacopoeia of illicit substances. The results have gone from the angry, edgy vibe of their initial release, the 'Paid to Suffer' EP, through the space doom blues jams of the classic 'Templeball' and 'SpaceJumboFudge' releases.

Sadly, we haven't heard much from The Sons lately, but this excellent release from Small Stone - "the patron saint label for all criminally under-appreciated heavy on the heavy rawk bands" - will rectify that in a big way. Like all of the band's best music, SoS's tuneage this go 'round is psychedelic, heavy, spacey, and doom-laden, only this time its more focused, an effect Small Stone seems to have on many on their group roster. Not that the lengthy jams of old are absent, they're just more......compact. Highlights from 'X' include 'Relapse,' a nod to the group's history in the form of a re-make of the leadoff tune from 'Paid to Suffer.' As you might expect, this time its both spacier and slower, but still faithful in intent. 'The Pusher' is a re-make of the Steppenwolf cover that first appeared on their beautiful vinyl-only picture disc a few years ago, and the effect is not unlike that of 'Relapse.' 'Eclipse' is so spacey and filled with echo that it sounds like it was recorded in Thingol's Cave, far underground. 'Liquid Jam' is just that, a 14 + minute slab of blues-based sludge doom colliding with Hendrix circa 'Cry of Love' or 'Band of Gypsies.' You dig? Ken Baluke's vocals are not unlike Dave Wyndorf's, only transmitted from a dust cloud in deep space, while the bass n' drums will blow your hair straight back and reprogram your heart.

This is Sons of Otis' best album yet, though I'll always have a soft spot for 'SpaceJumboFudge.' Really, it incorporates everything that's made them a staple for bong owners everywhere, regardless of the changing shifts in the winds of underground musical fashion. As such, its probably the best introduction a neophyte could have. So spark up: the jeweled forests of Venus are closer than you think.

Kevin McHugh
February, 4th 2005
Doom-metal.com

STONERROCKCHICK.COM

Having toiled in obscurity for most of their career, save for the enlightened few who have managed a glimpse at this sloth-like trio, the bandĂs forthcoming release ˘X÷ marks 10 years of the enigma known as Sons Of Otis. 10 years of blood, sweat and making the best of the hand youĂre dealt, as almost every release the band has put out has seen their labels either go belly up, or cringe in terror upon hearing the bandĂs self-diagnosed ˘doom-laden space blues÷.

Add in a rotating drummer, shady rock and roll reps, a legalese name-change semantics, fair-weather friends and a whole shitload of bad timing (˘Songs For Worship÷ was released 9/11/2001), the bandĂs philosophy becomes abundantly clear ű ˘When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.÷ And with the help of Roman Sokal, Eric Kuthe, drum-whiz Ryan Aubin and the faithful few, the band has hung on to create the most cohesive, profound, and inspired record of their lives.

Sticky, weighty riffs and a massive rhythm section moving along at a snails pace introduce ˘Way I Feel÷, as the true OTIS live sound is captured on tape by Billy Anderson. No nerves by new drummer Ryan Aubin, (whoĂse actually been with the band since ˘Songs For Worship÷, yet never recorded until now), just an amazing, loose groove that isnĂt scared to step up and anchor the toxic ambience fashioned by Frank Sargeant and Ken Baluke. A relic from the archives is up next with ˘Relapse÷, which originally saw the light of day on "Paid To Suffer". Although the structure is consistent with the original, the drumming is far superior, as is the new Moroccan-themed doom that Ken lays down.

OTIS steamroll ahead with "1303", taking that same type of stop-start riff energy from TempleballĂs "Down" and adding in KenĂs signature slo-mo delay effects to make it one of their catchiest and heaviest track to date; same goes with "Help Me", a track that features KenĂs whirling, blues-hero guitar drone in perfect sync with FrankĂs low end bass onslaught. Carrying on in the bold legacy of the famed "Windows" and "Diesel" jams is The Sons' latest conquest, the blues-drenched cosmos of "Liquid Jam"; the ultimate vehicle for a band that can create a riff and mould it into a form that's both scary and beautiful, turbulent and tender. Spanning 14+ minutes, OTIS lurk in that dark camouflage and fade-out, leaving only pride and honesty in their wake. YouĂve never heard music like this before; Until Now.

Nick Muc
January, 2005
www.stonerrockchick.com

Hellride Music

Sons of Otis have always been great at this Acid Doom thing, creating a sound is unmistakableÓ A sound that can be described in two ways, both of them hitting home for me. The ethereal, rumbling, aural ruminations of Cosmic Deities or the soundtrack to a Ketamine hole. Or both. Largely depends on your proclivity, I guess.

Sons of Otis have been at it awhile. The released a couple of terrific CDs in the late nineties on the seminal ManĂs Ruin label that are now considered certified drug doom classics. After ManĂs Ruin went the way of bankruptcy court, the band found a temporary ű and tempestuous - home at another famed label, The Music Cartel. The end result was an acrimonious break-up, and the Sons moved once again, this time over to DetroitĂs burgeoning Small Stone Record label. The result is X, the bands first release since 2001Ăs Songs of Worship.

As for X, donĂt expect anything newÓ The Sons havenĂt turned to folk, crump or trip-hop, or nu-garage. ItĂs Sons of Otis being Sons of Otis Ó massive Orange-amplified guitar and drenched in delay, reverb and what sounds like every effect pedal on the planet almost supplanted by peristalsis-inducing low-end and percussion. Typical Billy Anderson-recorded fare and Billy is always best when the vocals arenĂt the focal-point. Which brings us to founder/vocalist/guitarist KenĂs vocals ű nothingĂs changed. KenĂs vocals are also under heavy effects, giving them a slightly detached, post-Rohypnol-in-outer-space feel that are just one more addition to the Otis compositions instead of the entire song itself.

The most accessible song is also their strongest, ˘The Pusher÷ ű a kind of cosmic acid blues diddy that was released as an A-side to a 10÷ vinyl picture disc a couple of years back. I have an eternal boner for the long jam tracks (the Dead fan in me will never die) and ˘Liquid Jam÷ is the track I have a special fondness for. A epic-length outer space-in-inner space mind fuck that includes some impressive and imaginative guitar work. IĂm a sucker for this kinda thing.

Anyway, as a whole X isnĂt Sons of Otis at their best or most creative, and truth be told in the kind of niche that the Sons have created for themselves there is a lot of room for redundancy. But itĂs a solid effort nonetheless, very enjoyable and soothing in a benzodiazepine nĂ psilocybin sort of way.

Chris Barnes
December 23rd, 2004

ROADBURN MAGAZINE

The advent of a new Sons of Otis record is always a combination of expectation and dread. Expectation in that the band consistently produce great records, dread in that, like Spinal Tap, the band seem plagued by minor and major problems during recording!

This time around, the problem isn't keeping hold of their drummer, but that the recording was done without the support of a record label. Fortunately, this has since been rectified and "X" will be released in early 2005 by Small Stone Records.

So, with the line-up of Ken, Frank and Ryan intact from "The Pusher", what does the new record sound like? Similar to all previous Otis outings: thick sludgy riffs underpinned by a pounding rhythm section and heavily delay-processed vocals swirling in and out of the mix.

The difference between this record and the previous full-length "Songs for Worship" is apparent after the first few spins of the record. "X" is far more compact. The songs don't sprawl as much, the drums aren't too forward in the mix [a problem that made "Songs for Worship" pretty unlistenable to these ears] and the songwriting is a welcome return to the more bluesy style found on "Templeball." Drone fans won't be disappointed in any way with the Earth-like ambient drone of "Eclipse". Overall, however, the tracks are just more 'interesting' than on the previous record. Highlight tracks for me include the juggernaut opener 'Way I Feel', the grooving 'Help Me' and the Hendrix-inspired 'Liquid Jam.'

As a bonus for those that missed out on "The Pusher" 10", a new version of the track appears here featuring some searing lead work from Ken and massive drumming from Ryan. The only track I find weak is '1303' which, apart from being a bit simplistic, features some hideous squeaking noise out the guitar at the end of each bar which overstays its welcome almost immediately. Production-wise, the CD is a bit rough in places especially given that the tracks were essentially recorded live off the floor. However, the echoic nature of the church they recorded in does give 'Eclipse' a massively Satan's cathedral feel!

Billy Anderson's production is suitably bottom-heavy, but feels more subtle than his usual work. He successfully brings out the heavy in Otis' sound without compromising Ken's signature warm, overdriven guitar tone.

This album is a great improvement over "Songs for Worship" and yet another top-notch release from Sons of Otis. Hopefully it will enable them to get the exposure and success they deserve.


a.
December 22nd, 2004

DAREDEVIL MAGAZINE (Germany)

These guys live and breathe "doom-laden space blues". When your sound is so fat, controlled chaos to be exact, how do you get that sound, those frequencies onto a CD? It's damn hard but Billy Anderson is becoming a pro at it and he shines on this recording. From the first creeping, swirling notes of "Way I Feel" to the last spacey landscape of "Liquid Jam" this CD sucks you into Sons Of Otis' world and doesn't let you escape until the ride is over. It's not like you want to escape anyway, it's sort of like a really wild acid trip. Sometime it's so beautiful you feel at one with something higher only to have that magic ripped away to expose a darker, brooding reality.

The emotions that Ken Baluke evokes from his guitar on this outing are reminiscent of the greats; Hendrix, Robin Trower and Buddy Guy to name a few. And all of those greats had one very important, and often overlooked, thing in common. An awesome rhythm section. The thunderous grooves that Frank Sargeant and Ryan Aubin lay down will have your speaker cones shaking and all you air drummers will be pounding the thick, smoke filled air around you. I'm not saying you have to be high to enjoy this CD but it sure as hell would make the experience more understandable.

RB
December, 2004

MONOLITH (Greece)

Well, Merry fucking Christmas to you too, Small Stone!!! This gem was homeless at first, then the label took it under its roof and scheduled a 2005 release, and now, a few days before 2004 expires, Santa brings this great present. This milestone(d) of a record is what I imagine must sound when aliens gather in their futuristic studios to play their cosmic blues. Add an extra mass to the gravity equation and you might understand its heaviness. Add the effect of insane amounts of hallucinogens and youĂll be on par with the psychedelia thatĂs dripping of it. Finally add the ten years Otis have on their backs (hence "X"), with all the problems that they had to deal with and you can see why this is their toughest and best work to this day. While "Songs For Worship" of 2002, was a more experimental move for the band, dwelling in drone territory mostly, "X" keeps only the loose jammy vibe and goes back to their space doom days of the past, with the massive rhythm section, the psyche guitar work and those characteristic distorted vocals. Billy AndersonĂs presence ű always a plus - guarantees the "live" feel of the recording. The other good news is that Otis finally have a solid, permanent drummer. Ryan AubinĂs playing is crushingly heavy and along with Frank Sargeant on bass, they create a doomed, bleak atmosphere while keeping the groove plenty. This trio approach reminds me of Colour Haze and YOB, not musically, but in the way, the rhythm section lays the backbone for the guitar players to shine on top. Just like Stefan Koglek and Mike Scheidt respectively, Ken Beluke has found his distinctive tone. His solo in "Liquid Jam" speaks volumes about it; KenĂs performance reaches places only Hendrix and the others heroes of the past had stepped on. "Way I Feel", the opener with the repetitive riff, the emphatic groove and the sparse, Wyndorf-like distorted vocals will get you straight into the psychedelic haze. "Relapse" (a re-edition of the song contained in the "Paid To Suffer" debut EP), "1303" and "Help Me" continue this monolithic barrage of grim riffing. "The Pusher" is a drug drenched cover of the Steppewolf classic. "Eclipse" is a 10-minutes drone that combines ambience with tremendously heavy grooves. The album is capped off with "Liquid Jam", where as mentioned earlier, Ken throws an endless solo that has to be heard to be believed. Sons Of Otis is not your typical doom band. They infuse their brand of the genre with their unique flavour of space metal. Approach with caution.

Rate: 12/13

RegularPaul
December, 2004
www.monolith.gr

DIGITALMETAL.COM

10 years on, and CanadaĂs finest return with another offering of ultra-heavy space blues. One of the most distinctive acts in heavy music, they have garnered a hard-core following due to their uncompromising devotion to the sub-harmonics. After enduring enough label/line-up setbacks to dissolve multiple acts, the band once again finds themselves without a label (having left The Music Cartel last year), yet still managed to record a new album on their own (with the kind assistance of 12th PlanetĂs Eric Kuthe). The finished product is easily one of the finest releases in years, and I can only hope someone else gets to hear it.

Setting up shop in an old church, the band brought in legendary producer Billy Anderson to man the controls. Recording completely live as one unit (with absolutely no overdubs of any kind), the massive sounds were laid directly to 2-inch tape. The result is perhaps the most immense, all-enveloping guitar tone ever heard. Possibly learning a few new tricks through his one-man outfit OX, guitarist/vocalist Ken Baluke lays immediate waste with opener ˘Way I Feel÷. Impossibly dense sonic lava pours forth from the speakers, and the rhythm section of bassist Frank Sargeant and drummer Ryan Aubin sets a languid, subsonic pace. Aubin in particular shines on this recording, beating his kit as if it owes him money. The most recent addition to the line-up (after more drummers than anyone can reasonably count), he is clearly the best the band has ever had, adding a certain bluesy swing, and also finding a way to hit even harder than Tony ˘The Crusher÷ Jacome, who graced the previous full-length Songs For Worship. The drum sound is very ˘live÷ and organic, and instantly demands attention. Devoted to one main riff, the result is both trance-inducing and darkly sinister. BalukeĂs delay-drenched vocals are as incomprehensible as ever, at least initially. Each listen finds a new word or phrase bubbling to the surface, revealing tales of stoned disillusionment. The 2nd track, ˘Relapse÷, is a re-recording of the same track from the bandĂs debut EP, Paid To Suffer. Slower, heavier, and with an added space-tinged intro, it is an instant classic.

Also newly-recorded is the bandĂs cover of SteppenwolfĂs ˘The Pusher÷, which originally appeared on a 10÷ picture disc a few years back. This too is improved, with an absolutely searing guitar lead, and SargeantĂs dominating bass tones. ˘Help Me÷ is the most up -tempo track on the record, once again providing the perfect fusion between Robin Trower and Saint Vitus. As with the prior full-length releases, this album also features a lengthy drone track, as ˘Eclipse÷ is the sonic equivalent of a black hole. The absolute highlight lies at the very end, with ˘Liquid Jam÷. I first experienced this song live in Philadelphia almost two years ago, and on record it is even more amazing. Pushing 15 minutes in length, the opening groove sets the stage for BalukeĂs guitar pyrotechnics, before slowly drifting back to earth. Easily one of the most talented (and underrated) guitarists in all of music, his soloing is without peer. Bluesy, psychedelic, and heavy all at once, it truly is a crowning achievement, with skill not shown since the track ˘Windows Jam÷ from the legendary Templeball album almost five years ago.

Sadly, the most remarkable facet of this album is not the music itself; rather, itĂs the fact that as of this writing the band has yet to secure a proper label to release it. I will refrain from casting aspersions, but I can only wonder how something like this is forced to languish while endless cookie-cutter bands are hailed as innovators. Sons of OTIS are wholly unique, seamlessly fusing multiple elements into one uncompromising mass. I can only hope a label will soon see the light and release this to the desperate followers. In addition, the recording process demands a vinyl release, as the resulting slab will surely reduce a lesser stylus to dust. Fans of the band will be instantly satisfied, and new recruits will be laid to waste. This is a record that needs to be heard.

Andy Shal
April, 2004
DigitalMetal.com

Album Tracks

  1. Way I Feel
  2. Relapse
  3. 1303
  4. The Pusher
  5. Help Me
  6. Eclipse
  7. Liquid Jam

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