Where to start the review for ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’, the second album by Oklahoman weirdness merchants Rainbows Are Free? Firstly, kudos to them for the best song title I’ve come across in years in the form of opening track ‘Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell”! A title like that alone wins points, whether or not it was backed up by the music, something that the band delivers by the bucket load. Starting out with a gentle distorted fuzz the track first promises the listener the gentlest of journeys, wafted away on a cloud of THC smoke before a rude awakening care of pummelling blues rock based guitars backed up by a fusillade of bass, drums and cymbals, vocalist Brandon Kistler leading a clarion call to arms for a battalion of long hairs, bikers and weed addled drop outs. ‘The Botanist’ continues the hard rock assault before the speed reins back and there is a heavy injection of psychedelia with title track ‘Waves Ahead of the Ocean’, the laid back but rocking delivery matching the attitude of the wind titan on the album’s retro cover.
‘Sonic Demon’ follows up with the sort of dirty stomp that The Cult once made in their rocking heyday, combined with the bass and drum work that made Butler and Ward one of the finest rhythm sections in existence, a perfect complement to some seventies rock guitar heroics. This is followed by the slithering and sliding acid tinged swagger of ‘Cadillac’, a song that references “California 1999”, but whose dirty beats and bluesy guitars could easily have come from thirty years before that date, as if Hendrix had been playing guitar with The Doors rather than Robby Krieger with The Stooges’ Ron Asheton on rhythm, the whole blend of styles coming together in a five minute slice of consummate rock. By comparison, follow up ‘Snake Bitten By Love’ is a simple motorcycle rock stomp of stripped back riffs and lyrics that could sound clichéd if not delivered with such raw conviction.
Each and every one of the eight tracks of ‘Waves Ahead Of The Ocean’ is delivered with class, and kick out of the speakers with a raw edged conviction that is a testament to the skills of the performers rather than the unnecessary polish of an over intrusive producer. Rainbows Are Free are a band that has supported the likes of Saint Vitus, The Sword, and High on Fire, and with their glorious and unashamed blend of psyche, doom, and down and dirty hard rock, they have produced a solid album that deserves a place next to such esteemed bands wares.