What happens when you stick a guy from Mastodon, a guy from Tool, a film animator/director and a couple of other talented musicians together?
Now before you treat this as some poor effort at humour, it’s actually a legitimate question! Back in 2015, rumours of a new genre-smashing, psychedelic sounding, prog-feeling nautical colossus were circulating round the web. Danny Carey of Tool and Brent Hinds of Mastodon, along with director Jimmy Hayward and Zappa Plays Zappa & Dethklok bassist Pete Griffin (not to be confused with Seth McFarlane’s creation!) birthed the super group simply known as ‘Legend Of the Seagullmen’. Fast-forward to 2018 and their self-titled debut is upon us. Like a monster birthed in the deep, these intrepid, seafaring musical explorers roll in with the fog, crash upon our musical shores and bring some seriously cinematic sounding, mind bending and seagull worshipping rock. No amount of exposition can really distract any further, all it can do is simply lead to the following discovery; songs about seagulls are actually pretty damn good.
Now I know in the four years I’ve been slinging words on this site for I may have said some strange things and gave some strange scores and so on, the above statement stands as possibly the strangest and (in my mind) truest of them all – the songs by Legend Of the Seagullmen really are damn good. The band’s style and sound is unusual – it comes across like some kind of strange fusion of 60’s and 70’s rock in all its varieties but with a real crunch and punch to it. You have the shades of the whole Hawkwind, Yes, Rush feel going on, but mixed with the attitude you’d find in the glam rock titans of the era like The Sweet, T-Rex and hard rockers Steppenwolf. At the same time, you’ve got the quirky aspects of the mind-boggling Zappa styled approach to composition, a good helping of cinematic atmosphere from the music created and the influences of the band member’s parent bands themselves – Tool and Mastodon. So yeah, it’s a pretty varied. Some may like it, some may hate it, but when you’ve got that dirty 70’s rock vibe going on with a meaty metal friendly tone and Danny Carey battering your mind into oblivion with his unquestionable mastery of all things rhythm related, you realise just how it all falls into place.
“We Are The Seagullmen” introduces us to the adventure which could very well be the soundtrack to a film the lyrics of the album are all focused upon. David “The Doctor” Dreyer’s vocals have that dirty Rob Zombie edge to them and the multi-pronged guitar approach brings a wall of riffs which has that rhythmic hook which simply snags you and reels you in like some unsuspecting sea creature. “The Fogger” with its murky, atmospheric delivery and “Shipswreck” with its stoner-like vibes have been kicking around the internet these past few weeks so familiarity with them is high for many who have checked this act already, but where this album really shines is the epic sounding “Curse Of The Red Tide”. The near 7-minute long track has so many gripping qualities to it; it is hard to resist getting lost in it. The vocal and musical delivery is nailed with such precision that you cannot help but visualise everything within it as you hear it. The dramatic atmosphere which has that cinematic quality to it helps drive the song on, becoming more foreboding as it goes from relatively contained to downright filthy in terms of sound is fantastic and there are few moments which come close to this track.
Title-track “Legend Of The Seagullmen” has that attitude laden, high octane hard rock kick to it. The raw sound, in your face attitude and headbang friendly groove just begs for action in a live setting whilst “The Orca” seems to approach the darker territories of the atmospheric nature of this release once more. Bordering on almost Mastodon like territory with its more metal friendly delivery, the track about the sea dwelling mammals with insomnia (just listen to the track) follows on well and it sets up the equally moody but incredibly narrative, penultimate track. “Rise Of The Giant”, a moody and dark narrative about a colossal monstrosity which lurks in the depths of the ocean, set to bring destruction to the shores is a gripping track, after all with a line like “With Giant Fucking Eyes!” how can you not like it? “The Ballad Of The Deep Sea Diver” continues the dark and murky sound, wrapping the album up in a rather good manner, almost bringing the release full circle – both the opening and closing tracks have a great dynamic delivery and massive impact where needed and a real epic feel to them, not to mention the orchestral ending tagged on to the final track could easily serve as the opening to the first track of the release and you wouldn’t know any different!
In all, it’s only major downfall is the length- it’s just under 40 minutes and at times it can feel like it ends just as you really get into it. On the plus side, you could make a fantastic drinking game out of it – whenever the word “Seagull” is uttered, Drink!
“Legend Of The Seagullmen” is an album which ultimately falls into the category ‘It is what you make of it’. That isn’t a bail out or deflection, merely an observation. It’s a concept album with more of a theme than a flowing story which you follow from start to finish (as far as I can tell), and the heavily psychedelic prog vibes given out by the music will bring many detractors, but at the same time, it’s a great listen with a lot to offer. With that said, I bend the knee to the legendary Seagullman king.