Agents of Ahriman (Small Stone)
By Craig Regala
These guys came online in 1999, put one out back in ’03, and are serving it up again. Membership includes guys who banged the drum in other quality “stonerrock” bands concurrently – hey, it’s still true – there are a couple Truckfighters and a Dozer involved, and other cool guys who hit the mark with Greenleaf on the top of the band (if not career) resume. Greenleaf (ahem, pot?) fuse the roiling generator party bottom-end/vibe that burbled up from Kyuss and the MeteorCity label with tasteful classicist ’70s Euro-hard attack rock. Tasteful? Sure; well-written, played for the song, and melodically interesting. Like what? Well, you can’t ignore Deep Purple and Uriah Heep’s mid-’70s records when mapping this stuff as well as a bunch stuff that never charted high but sold 50 -200 thousand here (Bloodrock) and there (Atomic Rooster) back when Ford filled in for Dick Nixon right after we slunk away from Viet Nam.
Hell, it’s not so different from “grunge,” if those jokers hadn’t been so sheepish about the UFO and Rainbow records and ditched the “we-do-like-punk!-honest! ” part. Full-on hard rock with a natural-sounding singer and lessons learned from Cream and Zep, defolked and bumped up into the kinda thing that opened for Black Sabbath and Bloodwyn Pig in ’74. To pair’m with Monster Magnet’s a no-brainer. That they share gig/psychic space with Grand Magus, The Quill, Firebird, and Spiritual Beggars is a matter of geo-politics and good taste. Shit, you could have’m on a Clutch/Year Long Disaster bill and the teaming masses would holler and light their farts just the same. That’s good. So’s this. Lead rocker: First cut “Highway Officer.” Cool atmospheric thing: “Sleep Paralysis.” Best Freedom Rock moment: “The Lake.” Spin with Generous Maria, Deep Purple, labelmates Sasquatch and Mos Generator, Soundgarden, Mountain, and QOTSA.