Greetings fellow retronauts, old gits, and voyagers on the good ship olden times. Have you played your old Roy Harper 8 tracks so often that they have finally worn out? Have your Steve Hillage LPs spun so often on the record deck that they are now completely smooth? Is the new wave of 70’s inspired modern acts such as the superlative Blues Pills and Scorpion Child just too modern sounding for you? Well worry not. Prodigal young trio from Fort Worth Texas have gone even further back in time to bring you all the sounds you could wish for on the aptly named ‘High Testament.’
Album opener ‘Joy of Home’ sets the tone perfectly, a simple strummed acoustic guitar accompanied by gentle warbling singing sounding like a recently rediscovered Donovan number (and no, I don’t mean Jason you heathens!), relaxed lyrics giving way to a psychedelic wall of fuzzy guitars. ‘You Are Welcome’ continues the time travelling vibe, throwing in hard rock blues guitar progressions to punctuate the Syd Barrett vocals in a frantic rush, the listener then being soothed by the pastoral flute that weaves through ‘The Garden.’ For those who require their music heavier, the opening riff of ‘Seasons’ invokes the spirit of a young Iommi whilst the lyrics of magical spirits and fire breathers could be straight from the Black Widow book of song writing. If you want a modern comparison, it’s not impossible to envisage Electric Wizard playing this track, if they ever turned the volume down a bit and threw some subtlety into the mix. Despite being well over six minutes in length, ‘Seasons’ seemed far too short, and I kept on hitting the replay button rather then move on to the next track.
“Let’s get into something heavy” is the opening refrain from ‘Mountain’, the skilfully played Hammond organ that joins the guitar, bass and drums lending a new dimension to the album that is indeed heavy, man, albeit far more Vanilla Fudge than heavy metal, a vibe that is pretty much encapsulated in the album closer ‘Grass In Mind’. At a near ten minute THC powered voyage into long lost world of kaftans, lava lamps, and freak outs, this is a number that could so easily slip into the middle of Pink Floyd’s ‘Ummagumma’ without seeming out of place one iota. The guitar is a fuzzy haze or distortion and effects intertwining a near jazzy bass line, the drums being simultaneously frantic yet restrained so as not to kill the buzz, but rather power on the trip, the whole building into a crescendo of sound that at about the seven minute mark fades back to the single acoustic guitar that started the album, a perfect excuse to just hit the play and repeat button, unless of course, you insist on seeking this gem out on vinyl for the full retro experience.
This album is just a couple of pops, crackles and skips from being able to pass itself off as a long lost classic piece of vinyl dug from the vaults of a deceased miser’s hoard of unreleased music, rather than a brand new album from a modern three piece. Whilst it may evoke to me a youthful era hunting through a parent’s record collection, to many it may well be a whole new experience, and one that deserves repeated plays.