Occasionally it may happen that you start listening to an album and suddenly, because of something you heard in the music, you find yourself projected back to the past. Many years ago, when I was a teenager or something close to it, I used to go around with my friends driving my half-broken car with the stereo playing – loudly – the songs of Kyuss, Tool, Korn, and many other masters of metal. A few weeks ago, just a few minutes after I launched in my player the new record by Sundrifter, it seemed to me to be back at that specific point in time.
Sundrifter is a three piece stoner rock band from Boston, in the United States. Visitations, their second full-length album, makes no effort to conceal the origins of the sound of the band, which draws heavily in that inexhaustible source of inspiration that is given by the first couple of albums from Kyuss. But even where the imitation goes so far as to almost plagiarize the original (please listen to the beginning of the third track, Lightworker, just to get an idea) these guys still managed to put in their music so many elements of innovation that in the end they’re actually playing their own and unique version of stoner. And this album succeeds in being together a celebration of the great masters of the past and an absolutely valid and original piece of work.
Among the elements that make the music of this group so special there is for sure the fantastic and hypnotic voice of Craig Peura, the singer and guitarist of the band. Peura’s singing style is truly fascinating, he’s gifted with a voice that appears absolutely free from any roughness, and capable to span with great naturalness between dark registers and more acute leaps, but always without any exaggeration and always at the service of the different moods of the songs. I want to be honest: it was really a long time since I came across to a singer that was able to get me so excited with his voice and also capable to bring interest and profundity to almost every song he plays.
From a musical point of view, the band shows an impressive capacity to blend together classic stoner music with elements from psychedelic rock and space rock. The development of the songs, in most of the cases, is that typical of stoner music: an initial riff of guitar, loud and rhythmic, on which are added to follow an opulent bass and an essential – but still warm – rhythmic session. On top of that, as I already said, the fantastic voice of Craig Peura, which is in effect the winning element of this album and perhaps the real element of differentiation from the many other stoner bands we have today.
Another interesting feature of Visitations is that the 9 tracks of the LP seem as interconnected elements of a single majestic and epic rock opera. The individual songs are good and solid when we listen to them separately, but they manage to produce even a stronger effect when they arrive one after the other. And the fact to have an album that’s not composed by a few quality tracks and lots of gap fillers, as it is often the case with modern music, is in itself a noteworthy result.
In summary: Visitations is a really valid LP from a band which managed to fuse together the celebration and the homage to the legacy of stoner rock with a number of characteristic features which make their music absolutely solid and unique.
The album was released on February 6th, 2018.