by Craig Regala
This classicist doom/rock/metal puts me more in the mind of heavy fully-formed punk than “metal” proper. Emotionally, thematically, musically… it’s just so right on, so rock without any pretense, so much a part of the “stoner rock” thing, the gray-hewed shadow Black Sabbath flung into history. The DC/Maryland area lineage goes back to Pentagram, a band who pretty much helped create this heavy rock grunt and wrote tunes so good, Gene Simmons of Kiss tried to buy a couple of’m in the mid-’70s. From there, small groups of people supported this gritty thunder rock, which subtracted the folksy and/or radio-oriented side of Sabbath for the true goddamn grail of the first four LPs stompers worked up through the new mid-’70s zeitgeist that developed into Venom and Motörhead on the left, and Black Flag and The Sex Pistols on the other left.
By waging a ground war, this stuff won hearts and minds a few hundred at a time. Thing is, the fans never left, so each new crop just pile on the heap, and great bands keep appearing, often shearing off from other units or transitioning from audience to artist. The Hellhound label in Germany tapped deeply into the area and signed Unorthodox, The Obsessed, Iron Man, Wretched, and Internal Void, all who are represented in toto or by band membership on this disc. The fact that Clutch was birthed from this scene may surprise some, but hey, life’s fulla surprises. They’re as much a part of this as not. One of the figureheads, whether he wants it or not, is Scott Weinrich. He put The Obsessed together, was in St. motherfuckin’ Vitus, and went on to be in Spirit Caravan; a band so goddamn right on they bent history (and maybe even time!).
What about the disc itself? The thing spans four generations of doom from bands who were there in ’71 (Pentagram) to new toolings of the genre (Carrion). It’s paced well, starts off with a great Clutch tune, “Sea of Destruction,” and continues with new, rare and exclusive tracks by Earthride, The Hidden Hand, Internal Void, Life Beyond, Nitroseed, Unorthodox, Countershaft, War Injun, Black Manta, Leviathan A.D., King Valley, and Los Tres Pesados. This is the stuff the “True Circle of Doom” grouping of bands cut their teeth on. Unlike many samplers/overviews/scene reports, this thing plays as a great disc through and through.