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Arabs in Aspic - Progeria CD (album) cover

PROGERIA

Arabs in Aspic

 

Heavy Prog

3.27 | 11 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars The debut release from Arabs in Aspic is a fine mix of doomy heavy stoner psych that owes a great deal to Black Sabbath, the brimstone-fired Hammond drenched hard proto-prog/occult tinged danger of bands like Atomic Rooster, Bodkin and Bram Stoker, with some nice nods to Pink Floyd too. Full of plodding dirty grooves and sludgy riffs, it's a great start from this Norwegian band, even though they'd later head in a more vintage 70's psych/rock direction with greater focus of pleasing vocal melodies and more concise arrangements.

After a psychedelic and comical introduction, the eight minute `Silver Storm' kicks in, a slow-paced melancholic and spacey rocker. Opening with eerie faraway humming organ over gloomy rain ambience, it quickly moves through a sombre vocal, heavy snarling murky guitars with wild soloing, an intimidating and primal drum-build in the middle with a monstrous stoner rock finale over swirling effects. Rune Stavnesli's searing Hammond organ work dominates this piece, thoughtful and atmospheric one moment, then intense and brimming with hellfire the next.

`Shelob's Cave/Wizard in White' is a slow-burner, a lesson in wonderfully executed doomy tension. A killer rhythm section with plodding bass and perfectly-timed drumming, with shimmering serrated guitars and some very commanding Black Sabbath-styled vocals. This time the organ hums solemnly in the background under some mud-thick guitars with a siren-like urgency and a frantic heavy madness throughout the second half.

"Stranded in a desert of ice, pray for starlight from above" - The almost ten minute closer `Megalodon' is a dark fantasy rocker book-ended with mellow Pink Floyd-styled warm organ amongst the brooding heaviness. Strangely three minutes in, the track diverts into a heavy interpretation of the final section of Caravan's `Nine Feet Underground'! Not so much lazy as a cheeky and risky nod to the beloved Canterbury band that shows the sense of humour that's present in all the releases from the band, it's a nice respite before the piece turns to a ferocious monolithic slab of hard guitar noise and wailing soloing that pans left and right to disorientate the listener and some dirty stop/start grooves. Sadly, after a repeat of the chorus the track just stops, no big finale, which is something of a missed opportunity.

Running a brisk 27 minutes, `Progeria' is more of a glimpse of what the Arabs in Aspic band would eventually be able to deliver, their best work still ahead of them. Although melodically a far cry from their more recent albums such as `Strange Frame of Mind' and `Pictures In A Dream' (where they really nailed some catchy melodies and winning vocal harmonies), `Progeria' is a cool stormy rock album that fans of heavy organ-drenched rock and any of the above mentioned bands should enjoy. Who knows, some fans may prefer this version of the band to the more streamlined and approachable retro-rock direction they're currently in?

The best way to hear the album now is on the lavish double LP set from 2011 with the proper full-length follow-up `Far Out in Aradabia'. Housed in a gorgeous psychedelic erotic blowout cover, there's more incentive than ever to get it, so why not give this great band a go?

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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