Suffolk sludgemeisters Old Man Lizard have returned to the fray with a new self titled album to follow up last years ‘Lone Wolf vs Brown Bear’, this time released via Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds, proof if ever that the world is getting smaller thanks to the joys of the medium through which you are reading my words. Strictly speaking, the album isn’t entirely new, five of the seven songs coming out before in 2012 on their self-titled debut EP, although the strictly limited nature of that release means that the material will be new to most, and have if my ears don’t deceive me from listening to both back to back, been re-recorded and re-engineered.
So, what do you get if you decide to invest in purchasing ‘Old Man Lizard’ rather than ripping a copy? Firstly, the thanks and praise of those who support underground music rather than leech off it and complain. Secondly, a pretty damn solid slab of music from this heavy as fuck Sudbury three piece. As with the EP, the album opens with ‘Cold Winter Blues’ a number that manages to combine a Conan like battering with guitars that occasionally wander into the realms of country blues plucking, a gentle yet dark counterpoint to the full on sonic assault. ‘King Clone’ follows, the sound now developing a more psychedelic feel with gentler guitar breaks in an almost prog vein, whilst on ‘Fawza Fila’ there is a far more bass lead sound, the low end rumble from the speakers playing well against the more strident guitar riffs of the track, whilst with ‘El Doctor’ the opening dark country twang of the guitar and vocals far back in the mix giving an altogether more mellow sound and laid back sound to drift away with.
The first new track on the album is the tongue twistingly named ‘Craniopagus Parasiticus’ (in case you’re wondering, it’s a medical condition where a baby is born with the skull of an undeveloped twin growing out of their own head), a bizarre theme that the lyrics explore in the near nine minute meandering of the song, albeit in more dark philosophical and dark psychological than physical terms, all set to a reverberating semi-acoustic guitar sound that initially promises more of a blues-country idyll than a grim exploration of the psyche. Closing the album is ‘A Gruesome Mess’ a number that is far removed from its title might suggest, albeit it throws elements of stoner, sludge, and their own countrified doom into the mix.
By revisiting their first rough around the edges release and re-recording it, Old Man Lizard have elevated the original sound to a new level, whilst at the same time not allowing it to become too over-polished; the fuller sound is one that they could undoubtedly reproduce live, reflecting their years of practice and development as musicians. ‘Old Man Lizard’ is a fine introduction to the band if you’ve not heard them before, and a worthy addition to their catalogue if you have.