Trust me. This picture does not reveal the stunning, gorgeous detail of this album art.
Album Art & Illustration By: Annika Weidner.
Hello and good tidings to all that read this blog.
I have to level with you, Le Gran Formages/ Head Gazzooks and most likely the much ballyhooed "Algorithm" of this here interweb publishing thingamajig, have forbade me to put the entire title in the title header area.
So the complete title of this article should have looked like this.....
ELEVATION ABOVE SEA LEVEL: MEGATHERIA, THEIR EP, THUSLY ENTITLED, GATEWAY AND THE BURGEONING MOUNTAIN ROCK SCENE IN THE HEART OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
There. Now I am happy.
Or another title idea could look like this.....
YO MONEY! IT'S GOTTA BE THE WEED! (...And it most likely is!)
Don't worry or fret none. I'm stopping right here. I've got a lot of ground to cover.
As most of you should know by now, I am an aficionado of Stoner Rock. You know...artists that have a yin for loud, vintage, tube driven amplifiers (preferable with the date of manufacture of said tube driven amplifier between 1969-76), coiled cables, traditional guitar brands like Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker and ultra-boutique ($$$$) effects pedals. Artists that either dress up outrageously or just come out on-stage in their t-shirts, jeans and flip-flops. And in both cases, we, the fans, should consider ourselves lucky if said artists have showered within the last few days.
Beneath the primal sonic sludge borne of the Rocky Mountains. lies the architects of all Metal, Black Sabbath and the penultimate Stoner Rock song, Sweet Leaf. The riffs bore their way into your skull and stay there for a while. Or in my case, up to this very day.
The songs deal with heavy subjects. Songs like Dopesmoker by Sleep. Oh wait! That's not a song. That's the whole freaking album! One song! Wellll.. how about songs like Winter's Wolves by The Sword. End of My Daze by Trouble and more recently Fears of The Dead by Duel. And how could I forget Blood On The Skulls by Lords of Dust.
And I suppose if you really wanted to get all "technical/fiddly details" about all of this, you could say that Vincebus Eruptum by Blue Cheer is the first stoner rock album. GASP! I know I'm going to stir up a hornet's nest of controversy by writing that but as far as people hating on me goes, I encourage haters to hate me. That gives me silent witness that I am on the right path.
Let's get back on schedule, shall we? Let's.
There is a heavy music scene in the greater Denver, Colorado area. And thusly, I have been keeping my eyes (and ears) open in regards to this scene for quite some time. This scene is putting out some of the coolest heavy music this author has heard in quite some time. Bands like Hashtronaut, Love Gang, Lord Velvet and Abrams are just a few of many bands that have sprouted up like Blue Columbine.
But what do the locals call the music that is generated within this scene? Post Psychedelic Prog Rock? Could be. All the elements are certainly are within that moniker. But try telling that to a hot chick over a blaring PA system when she asks you what types of music you're into. No. We need something that would be a bit more abrupt and to the point. Mountain Rock.
Mountain Rock. Now we have something that can roll off the tongue and can be easily digested by the masses. A name stands tall and proud like the massifs that the state is know for. Just like Grunge reminds us all of Seattle, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden and The Melvins.
For as long as I can remember, certain music scenes have infatuated me. My top 3 are 1) London, UK. 1964-69. 2) Seattle, Washington (USA) 1987-1993. 3) Detroit, Michigan (USA) 1966-70. Yes. I have read extensively on all the aforementioned scenes. One of my favorite books is Grit, Noise and Revolution by David Carson. This book is well-researched and executed- a must-read for any music geek.
Now for the meat of this post.
The definition of Megatheria is essentially a group (genus) of giant, land dwelling sloths. They ranged from the size of an average family dog to the size of a modern elephant. The name comes from the Greek words "Mega", which means great and "Therion" which means beast.
A Megatheiran on display in a natural history museum. Photo Credit: Ballista.
Fortunately for us, we are not dealing with fossils, an extinct species or stuffy, smelly museums. Indeed! We are dealing with a living, breathing great beast in a musical sense. Let's meet the principals, shall we.
Guitars: Marc Christoforidis. Photo Credit: Stephanie Rodriquez
Drums: David Hindman Photo Credit: Stephanie Rodriquez
Bass: Matt Funk. Photo Credit: Stephanie Rodriquez
Sonically speaking, Megatheria fall somewhere between Kyuss, Elder, Earthless with a dash of The Sword and yes....Tool. Yet, there is more to them than who/what they sound like. The music these lads produce could (& should) be used in yoga or meditation classes. Hint, hint (Instagram) @yogabloodyoga. ;)
Make no mistake, within this genre, the main riff is the star of the show. Their music has transcendental qualities that go way beyond whatever your average stoner rock artist can cobble together. The title track is pure, pummeling bravura and is the perfect introduction to what the listener should expect from that point on. Glass Mantis (my personal fave) starts softly and as the song wends its way, it becomes a roaring behemoth of feedback and distortion.
Side note: To listen to this album properly, might I suggest the listener use patience. and use a good pair of headphones. With this band, the sonic journey is the objective. Not the destination. Concerning this album, you're just going to have to trust me when I say that the payoffs are immense.. When their songs crescendo in the troposphere, the listener yearns to stay up there a little bit longer.
Back to the album....
Bathysphere is an apt title of the next track. The track descends to some very heavy depths that are reminiscent of Elders' Reflections of A Floating World. Consider this song a deep submersible vehicle of sound. During this descent into the murky depths, we encounter strange and wonderful creatures. The song travels through serene coral reefs rife with exotic strains of seaweed that gently sway to the pull of the tides. We glide through verdant natural underwater canyons that boggle the mind. And just like a submersible vehicle, it has to surface. But when the tune surfaces, it's on top of an ocean of sonic chaos and crunch.
Another thing I like about this album is the tasteful and sparing use of keyboards. As in most rock music, keys should not be used. And if they are used, they should only accent the track in a minor, complimentary fashion.
Hibernation begins as if one is slowly awakening from a very deep slumber. Once out of bed, the clumsy guitar and bass chords stagger around as if they're trying to find a glass of fresh, cool water and remember where the bathroom was. The solid drumming is tight and carries the tune through its many mutations.
Is this tune heavy? Yes. But it moves at a quasi-lethargic pace. But definitely not a Night Of the Seagulls by Cathedral pace. Now THAT is sssslllooooowwwww! But dammm! That is one of my all-time favorite heavy songs. Yet the pace and arrangement of Hibernation gives the listener time to savor the ebb and flow of this track.
And just as we are getting serious about going back to sleep, Memorial drops an ice cold bucket of water on us and brings everything back to reality. The word majestic comes to mind as the track plays. This is a grand, epic end to this album as the track fades into the ether.
I would like to take a few more lines before I conclude this post to thank a one Mr. Matt Funk (@ripandriff on Instagram) for being available to answer or elaborate upon any and all of my questions regarding this post.
Please follow Megatheria on Instagram @megatheria_band
They're most likely on all streaming services.
Now I'm done.
Get out there and see some shows and buy some merch!