Moab – “Trough” (Falling Dome Records)
Well I guess this 3rd release from LA stoner / psych rockers almost didn’t happen given the tragic passing of drummer Erik Herzog mid-way through its production. A founder and clearly a gifted member, Moab considered retiring as a band right there and then. However, buoyed by support from family and friends, co founder guitarist / vocalist Andrew Giacumakis and bassist Joe Fuentes regrouped to complete the album, largely helped by Giacumakis being a noted recording engineer, having worked not only his own releases, but stuff for Fu Manchu. Little wonder that touring in support of “Trough” the band have enlisted the support of Brad Davis (Fu Manchu) to fill the drumming void left in Herzog’s wake. Sitting comfortably between the ferocious guitar intensity of Earthless and the laid back vibes of Fu Manchu, Moab has plenty of droning in its muffled guitars but equally lots of funky grooves bedazzled by some authentic 70s trippy guitar melodies to stand their own ground. Then there’s the uncanny resemblance Giacumakis’s voice has to a youthful Ozzy in its off the wall, trippy wailings! It all makes for a truly catchy album across the 10 varied tracks that ably mix stoner and psych in differing quantities across a range of tempos. ‘Into The Sea Swine’ may start off passively enough, but then the guitars and bass rumblings come chugging in and whoa, you’re off on one massive groove, heavy and addictive as the drums add their powerful back beat amid an acid trip of cymbals – wow! I mean, it’s so good I couldn’t tell when the next track ‘All Automatons’ with its massive booming bass heralded a more up tempo chundering as the Ozzy-esque bird wails drove me bananas with the added space rock sounds really putting in the mental deathblow ha ha. More epic and exotic was ‘MFifty Thousand Tons’ with its contrasting guitar wailings and down tuned dirty strums, although nothing could prepare me for the intense contrast of far out guitar funkiness and wah solos dramatically crashed by a monster headbanging passage – like wow, the number totally lived up to its name in all its intensity and heaviness! Racing off in closer ‘Fend For Dawn’, the feedback intro soon gave rise to a powering doom metal piece with plenty of savage guitar and rampaging rhythm, very reminiscent of High On Fire in all its bombast despite a trippy mid song respite – very tasty if I might say so. Quite where the future lies for Moab is questionable, and while I certainly hope they continue especially given the strength of “Trough”, if they do decide to call it quits, then these dudes have gone out on a very high note indeed.