This is the debut album from UK stoner rock band Ghozer.
It’s been four year’s since Ghozer’s enjoyable debut EP, but now the band have returned with 49 minutes of new material.
Ghozer have a sound that sits somewhere between stoner rock, sludge rock, and doom metal. Pinches of alternative rock and grunge can be heard now and again too. Some of the songs are more along one side of the spectrum than others, and various subgenres within these styles are explored. Within this rough description the band have a lot of variety in their sound, and this variation is a considerable strength, (one of many).
The guitars are fuzzy and thick, driving the songs forward by a variety of different ways and means. The bass has a good, solid presence, and the drums are organic and quite satisfying. The vocals are varied and well-performed. The coarser ones remind me, at least in places, of a cross between the singers of Orange Goblin and High on Fire, with a touch of Cathedral in places. The clean singing is equally well-performed, and also diverse in delivery. On songs like Gunt and the end of Baritone Pterodactyl I’m reminded of Alice in Chains, for example. Dax Riggs gets a firm nod too in parts of I Will Watch You, (which might be my favourite cut of the bunch).
The songs are well-written and the album flows well. Each song has its own personality and showcases different aspects of the Ghozer experience. The melodic side of the music is particularly strong, frequently weaving atmospheric layers atop the scuzzy riffs, (Xaltotun, Test), or blaring out molten solos, (Baritone Pterodactyl). There’s a southern, blues rock influence here that’s sometimes pronounced, (Witches), and sometimes less so, (Gunt). The stoner and desert rock elements can frequently be heard, and can occasionally lead to some very textured delivery, (Every Dirty Pill, I Will Watch You).
Cuts like Skinned, the shortest track, owe the most to Orange Goblin, although the central moody doomfest section is more akin to something Cave In‘s doomier side might do. The latter style is further explored elsewhere, (particularly the foreboding instrumental drone nightmarescape of Aftermath).
There’s an old-school doom metal feel that occasionally rears its head, sometimes infused with an injection of sludge rock (Baritone Pterodactyl) or at others within a more stoner doom framework, (Test). There’s frequently a darker aspect to the band that I like, (Xaltotun, I Will Watch You, Test), where the riffs are more menacing and the melodies imposing or grand. Other parts of the album remind me of the sort of emotive psychedelic rock that bands like Druids and Sunnata do so well, (I Will Watch You).
Of course, the songs refenced above are only some examples, and many of the songs share many of the traits that I’ve described. Ultimately Black Lotus makes a feast of its various influences, and like a good chef uses its ingredients in the right amounts in different places. The end result is a very tasty, engaging, and moreish collection of songs.
Rough around the edges, and with an undeniable charisma, Black Lotus has impressed. Ghozer take the listener on a tour of a wide range of different stoner/doom-adjacent styles and sounds, and the end result is remarkably addictive.
Black Lotus is an essential listen for any fans of the plethora of styles mentioned in this review. Don’t miss this.