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"In The Groove" (The Music Cartel)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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The Music Cartel, a label out of New York City, has found it very wise to release a compilation CD of the stoner and sludge bands on their label. As with most compilation CDs you'll get a mixed bag of styles and song quality, but this disc delivers quite a few surprises in its fourteen tracks.

The majority of the tunes fit squarely into the stoner rock tag. Stoner rock is typically guitar-oriented, blues-based riffs presented in a concise format often  with a droning hypnotic edge or occasionally with a punk attitude. If I had to describe one band with the stoner rock tag that most readers would be aware of it would have to be Kyuss.   However, using Kyuss as a description doesn't come close to doing justice to the variety on this disc.

Of course, with all music, each band brings a unique slant to this style. For instance, Roachpowder's "Toxic River" has a touch of spacey psychedelia. sHEAVY infuse "Face In The Mirror" with a nice touch of echo (but why is it that most bands from Canada have singers that sound like they are Geddy Lee's long lost relative?). Red Giant have a touch of grunge-era Seattle in their beefy sound for "Quantum Powder", Altamont's quick and snappy cover of "Rattlesnake Shake" is blessed with a fuzzy and hazy sound, and Leadfoot (with two former members of Corrosion of Conformity) bring '70s straight edged rock with a Southern touch to their cover of Thin Lizzy's "Gonna Creep Up On You."

Unfortunately, some bands sound like they are Kyuss cover bands or deliver uninspired performances. Roadsaw, from Boston, deliver competent, but unoriginal, groove rock. Raging Slab contribute an uninspired version of Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," and Acid King meander through "Not Fragile" with little to say.

The best efforts on "In The Groove" are from Karma To Burn, Sixty Watt Shaman, Bakerton Group, Nebula, and Terra Firma. Karma To Burn play instrumental rock; I'd heard a lot about these guys and I now know what the fuss was about. Karma To Burn get right to the point by delivering heavy riffs, crushing interplay, and a strong sense of songwriting on their charging track called "20." Sixty Watt Shaman's "Whiskey Neck" has obvious cues from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin yet works very nicely. Dripping Goss have a late '80s indie feel (think Homestead Records and such bands as Big Black and Naked Raygun) with slippery slide guitar on "Before The Fall." I loved hearing the Bakerton Group's "The Mack" which is a great rockin' instrumental and I said to myself, "Damn, this sounds like Clutch" - lo and behold it is Tim, Dan, and Jean-Paul from Clutch. While "The Mack" may lack Neil Fallon's vocals and great storytelling, there is no shortage of excitement on this track as it covers a lot of musical ground stylistically. Nebula have a touch of Sub Pop-ish punk attitude on "Full Throttle" (recorded by the Seattle legend Jack Endino) and Sweden's Terra Firma brings a Euro-metal touch to the groovy rock of "In Orbit."

If you're interested in slower rock then this is a decent compilation to add to your collection. Stoner rock may not be heavy metal, but it does make a strong case for a genre that can move the soul as well as the body. The rating of two and half chainsaws speaks to the entire disc, but clearly there are songs worthy of a higher rating if only the CD had more tunes like them.

Executive Producers for this compilation are Rob Gill and Eric Lemasters. The disc was mastered by Charles De Montebello. Check out the label's website at to get more information on the compilation CD and bands.

Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Oct 2018 19:54:50 -0400 .