Holy Shit! Where’s the exclamation mark? That’s right, after a decade since their last album, Fu Manchu alumni Nebula return, and ‘Holy Shit’ is not really an expression of surprise, although it could well be, rather a simple description of their cosmic sound. ‘Man’s Best Friend’ heralds the return of the power trio, opening with what the cynical could potentially interpret as a couple of deep breaths drawn through some sort of pipe maybe, all before the music fires in and and the song reveals itself not to be an ode to our canine companions, but a tripped out homage to the fallen angel of Judeo-Christian mythology, supporting the old adage that “the Devil has the best tunes!” This delving into the mystical and magical continues with ‘Messiah’, the gentle desert idyll of the opening chords soon building into some suitably psychedelic riffing built over a foundation of fuzzy bass and drums that are by turns pummelling and then almost jazzy.
The band continue to narrate their journey to the astral plane with ‘It’s All Over’, a number that owes as much to the space rock of early Hawkwind as it does to the stoner grunge scene that the band members first contributed to; hell, throw in a Theremin and it would be oh so easy to imagine a young Captain Brock leading his crew though the song, complete with Lemmy at his side bringing some fire and thunder to the proceedings. A simpler retro-rock sound follows with ‘Witching Hour’, a glorious collision between ‘Kick Out The Jams’ and ‘Helter-Skelter’ that harkens back to the Woodstock that once was, rather than the money machine that has hijacked the name in modern years. Not all is too heavy though, as mssrs Glass, Davies and Amster prove with a ‘Fistful of Pills’ that they are true Dickheads, and no, I’m not just throwing insults around, rather acknowledging, as the band do, a love for the king of surf rock, Mr Dick Dale with this spiritual ancestor to ‘Peter Gunn’. Oh, and if you’ve know idea what I’m rambling on about, get on Google (other seach engines are available), and spend a few minutes on this miracle of modern information technology that you’re viewing to broaden your horizons, as you might well find it worthwhile.
New textures are brought in with some gentler acoustic guitars with an arpeggio Spanish style being woven into the fabric of ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’, a laid back meandering number that seems to somehow simultaneously stretch beyond its already substantial seven minute plus length whilst being over far too quickly and demanding that the replay button is hit. Whilst a host of classic sounds are incorporated into the work of Nebula over the nine tracks of ‘Holy Shit’, not one is out of place or jarring, be it the early Prog hints of ‘Gates of Eden’ that references ‘See Emily Play’, to the grungier stripped back thump of ‘Let’s Get Lost’, to the drifting album closer ‘The Cry Of The Tortured World’, half blues inspired rock, half Doors inspired ritual, and all pretty damn good. As I have far too often pointed out in my reviews, if you’re going to be influenced in your style, why not be influenced by the greats?
The hiatus that preceded Nebula’s reformation has not in any way dulled their edge, and ‘Holy Shit’, their first release on Heavy Psyche Sounds, a label that truly nails its allegiance to the mast with nominative determinism, is every bit as good as any of their prior releases, and hopefully the first of many more. Desertfest 2020 surely calls.