"Reason to Live" (Spitfire; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I still have vivid memories of seeing Sixty Watt Shaman for the first time way back in April 1999. I appreciated the band's authenticity and honesty. More than three years later the collective Shaman continue to rock their way across North America during relentless tours with a variety of bands crossing several genres. Such is Sixty Watt Shaman's appeal - the band can make fans out of metal heads and stoners alike, and just about everyone in between. And their never-ending touring has sharpened the band's unique sound into a honed edge. And the proof can be heard on "Reason To Live." 

"Reason To Live" is Sixty Watt Shaman's second release for Spitfire Records and third overall. While not too different than their previous effort, "Seed Of Decades," "Reason To Live" is a rousing rumble through heavy rock's inner and outer limits. Sixty Watt Shaman draw a lot of inspiration from the stoner genre's classic sound yet still manage to import many diverse features into their songs.

"Reason To Live" showcases a band that is as comfortable in the studio as it is on stage. Overall, the new material is more energetic, focused, and, dare I say, aggressive while still remaining true to the band's origins. The seventeen tracks on "Reason To Live" cover more than seventy minutes - as you might guess Sixty Watt Shaman is a band unafraid to let creativity flow freely and then equally undaunted by the prospect of laying it all out on CD.

I could go on and on about each song, but this review would end up being too long to read. I will say that each song has its own unique vibe and character. I simply ask that you, kind reader, to trust me that Sixty Watt Shaman confidently tackle everything from bristling rockers to laid-back acoustic numbers. The seeming ease that the band goes about its musical business is borne of blood, sweat, and tears - something that those of us on the outside don't see and surely wouldn't understand.

Vocalist Dan Kerzwick is simply in his element as a singer in this heavy rock band. Guitarist Joe Selby coaxes his guitar into a wide variety of classic rock, heavy rock, and southern swampy grooves - and his soloing style is even more vibrant and alive than before. Bassist Reverend Jim never lets the band down - his low end could support two bands. New drummer Minnesota Pete is rock solid and allows the band to work from the beat outward. However, Sixty Watt Shaman, like most great bands is a sum that is greater than its individual parts.

"Reason To Live" is an improvement over "Seed Of Decades" - even if it is only a slight improvement due to the high stature that I currently hold "Seed Of Decades." "Reason To Live," like its predecessor, will appeal to a wide variety of fans including the stoner and heavy rock genres.

All hail Sixty Watt Shaman!

"Reason To Live" was produced by Scott Reeder (Unida, Kyuss, Orange Goblin, The Obsessed). Scott Reeder seems to have taken on a mentor-like role (much like Jean-Paul Gaster provided on "Seed Of Decades") by offering guidance and support rather than forcing the band in an unintended direction.

Sixty Watt Shaman is Dan Kerzwik on vocals and guitar, Joe Selby on guitar, Reverend Jim Forrester on bass, and Minnesota Pete Campbell on drums.

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"Seed of Decades" (Spitfire; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I have praised Sixty Watt Shaman since early 1999 and their move to a bigger label like Spitfire will boost the band's exposure and get the word out on the solid "Seed Of Decades."

Sixty Watt Shaman are typically lumped into the stoner rock genre and that assessment would be fairly accurate. However, generally speaking, there's more heavy rock than stoner rock on "Seed Of Decades." It would be safe to say that Sixty Watt Shaman are summoning rock's past with a heavier sound that is at the forefront of the heavy rock movement (with Clutch and Corrosion Of Conformity being supreme examples of the heavy rock style).

"Red Colony" is clearly the best song in my opinion. The title track, "Busy Dying" and "Stone’s Throw Away" are also favorites of mine. Sixty Watt Shaman shine with an acoustic track called "Roll The Stone" - songs like this are going to expand Sixty Watt Shaman's audience. The re-recorded "New Trip" takes the original stoner groove and turns it into a call to arms for heavy rock.

The rough and gritty voice of Dan Kerzwick fits the band's sound like a glove. As Kerzwick shouts, hollers, and wails his way through the fourteen tracks he adds even greater weight to the band's tight weave of heavy rock.

"Seed Of Decades" was produced by Sixty Watt Shaman, Jean-Paul Gaster (Clutch, Bakerton Group), and Larry Packer (Clutch).

Sixty Watt Shaman is Dan Kerzwick on vocals, Joe Selby on guitar, Reverend Jim Forrester on bass, and C.J. Dukehart on trapkit and percussion.

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"Ultra Electric" (Game Two Records; 1998)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Baltimore's stoner rock kings Sixty Watt Shaman deliver twelve tracks of sludgy, down to Earth rock. The beefy, deep, tough tone of the music gives Sixty Watt Shaman a chance to focus on organic grooves rather than calculated beats. It's obvious the band is loose when it plays; "Rumor Den" settles that point from the get-go. Another clue about the organic nature of the band is the fact that this disc was recorded in two days and mixed in another two days.

The bass rumbles, the guitar is solid as bricks, and the drumming is very reminiscent of the '70s drum sounds. Also rounding out the sound is a healthy respect for the South and its contributions to the rock genre; elements of Corrosion of Conformity bring a modern touch to the Southern feel of the licks and tricks. This complete package offers an enjoyable alternative to metal without losing the rambunctious flavor that hard rock is all about.

Some cool songs to check out include "Interplanetary Pit Stop," "Cactus Mexicali," and "Bemis Manifesto." Vocalist Edward Kerzwick really lets his vocals shine on "Burn Baby Burn" with piercing screams to accentuate the slow and fast grooves. James Forrester really gives the frets on his bass a workout on "Southern Gentleman" and "Where You Been." Joseph Selby provides guitar solos on every song; his wah-wah drenched tone matches the intensity of the band note for note. C. Dukehart's drumming is never overplayed and always fits the song.

Overall the music isn't as smooth as what you might expect from the genre (Queens Of The Stone Age, Nebula), but polish isn't what Sixty Watt Shaman is about. What you get is music in the spirit of rock'n'roll - music that borders on destruction, but never falling apart or losing control.

Sixty Watt Shaman is Edward Daniel Kerzwick on vocals, Joseph Nicholas Selby on guitars, James Robert Forrester (the Reverend) on bass, and C. Joseph Dukehart on drums.

The band produced themselves on "Ultra Electric" with co-production and engineering by Frank Marchand.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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