“I got all that I need… I got the green…”
These are the ten words which open this album, and adequately serve as a synopsis of what to expect. Stereotypical? Perhaps.. But when you look at the mastermind behind this release, the legendary Brant Bjork, one of the men who encompasses everything about what people call ‘Desert Rock’, a style of stoner rock which originated in the Palm Desert region of California. With the term Desert Rock being often substituted for Stoner Rock given the similarities in the style and delivery (though Desert Rock has a fairly unique sound and is easy to pick out), you know what you’re getting. Tracks where worshiping the riff and that classic rock feel is in full flow, along with tributes to chemical enhancement in various ways is the order and for the likes of Brant Bjork, this is his bread and butter.
From Kyuss to Fu Manchu, a brief reconciliation with former Kyuss bandmate Josh Homme and a stint in his other Kyuss bandmate Nick Olivieri’s Mondo Generator, Bjork has had a notable musical career where he has played pretty much every role in a band, from drums to bass to vocalist to riff slinger, the man has done it all and now with Vista Chino (Kyuss Lives!) on hiatus, Brant has turned back to his own projects and this is the latest release. With that said, let us see what way the devil wants us to go.
With the bluesy opening giving way to a full on filthy Sabbathian onslaught of riffs, “The Gree Heen” opens the album up and the sheer rawness of the music is delightful. The mixture of the tried and tested simplistic heavy Iommi-esque riffs but stripped right back to a real raw and primitive sound creates a real thick atmosphere which no doubt would be filled with the purple haze variety given the occasion. Laid back but powerful, it commands approval via simple arms folded and heads nodding or banging in response.
Of course, it’s not just all Sabbathian riffs, from here on out, things get raw, dirty and real bluesy. With a raw retro infused boogie groove, “Humble Pie” is stripped back and a highly concentrated form of the style of music made more accessible to the masses by the likes of Clutch. Gritty vocals painting a classic bluesy styled story of life and some sweet overdriven tones, warm but fierce in their delivery, it really sinks its claws into you, catching you in its groove and making you want to dance. The same can be said for the following tracks, all of which employ a similar style of dirty and raw blues vibe which makes it the perfect music to kick back to and to simply enjoy it for what it is. The dark and dingy sounds of “Stackt” or the brighter “Biker No.2” or even the ambitious “Dave’s War” which clocks in at near 10 minutes of filthy boogie blues and stoner grooves.
Of course, the title track is the real gem of the album. “Tao Of The Devil” has a hypnotic feel right from the off. With the subtle, delay and reverb laden clean refrain backing up a steady and hypnotic drum beat and some filthy fuzzed out licks, the music flows over you, catching you in its embrace and when the lyrics come in, that hazy tone just caps it all off. For those who embrace the ways of mind enhancing substances, this is the perfect track to really enlighten yourself on, be it weed, hallucinogens or whatever you just drank in that 3am shitmix at a festival campsite which you’re sure contained some absinthe, this track is one of those which makes you sit there and simply say ‘Wow!”.
In all, you know what to expect from anything Brant Bjork lends his musical talents to or comes up with. Familiar but brand new, music stripped right back to its bare bones, showing just how raw, soulful and passionate mr Bjork is about creating things, dare I say it louder than a whisper, this is ‘potentially’ one of ‘the’ albums of 2016. Walk the path of the devil and let it all go.