Californian stoner riff worshippers, Arctic have just landed their self-titled debut after a number of years touring. Taking their cue from classic names such as Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Sleep and Jimi Hendrix, they’ve served up a slab of fuzz laden, effects drenched, head banging goodness. Essentially an instrumental album, anyone who is a fan of the names mentioned above will surely get a big kick out of this release.
Swathed in a wall of fuzz before a bottom heavy, woolly mammoth of a riff, “Over Smoked” is an absolute belter of a way to kick start an album. There’s no sense of anything over-polished and it really has the raw appeal of three guys in a garage having a grand old time. With generous, bloated riffs with scorching leads that keep on attacking it only takes one listen to get into it. Frecks on drums and Don ‘Nuge’ Nguyen on bass lay a pummelling foundation. You get the enormity of Sleep but it’s given some added pace and there are some twists and turns that never let the track lose momentum.
With busloads of distortion and howling lead breaks, Justin ‘Figgy’ Figueroa on guitar seems to be constantly reaching for his inner Hendrix, whose old bootleg jam sessions come to mind. Then there’s always the riff – 1970 vintage Black Sabbath raw one minute and Sleep crushing heaviness the next. There are very few vocals and it’s not until “Burnt Ice” that we hear some slightly maniacal and nasty utterings which prove to be short lived.
“Daewon” has plenty of tribal percussion underneath a Deep Purple intro that develops into something pretty damn groovy. The scratchy “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” guitar keeps growing into a many headed beast with chest pounding fury and screaming guitar. Followed by closing track “Higher”, it’s a more sinister sounding blast that nicely finishes the album.
Rocking in at around 30 minutes, Arctic does everything you want – no filler. There’s no overstaying the welcome, just a set of tracks that will get you moving. The cover art is courtesy of Arik Roper who was responsible for Sleep’s “Dopesmoker” and again reflects contents that crush everything in their path. Grab a copy and lose yourself in it.
(8/10 Johnny Zed)