Click to hear: “Variety of Damage”
When the mighty Eldemur Krimm lurched off into the woods of western Maine years ago, it left an enormous sinkhole in the local stoner-rock scene that several bands have endeavored to fill.
Riff for riff, Sun Gods in Exile have come closer than any to matching Krimm’s Sasquatch-sized footprint. Murcielago, a group with two Krimm alums on guitar, is mixing up a sludge worthy of contention, and now we have the first album by Clubber Lang, a band that includes ex-Krimm drummer Stefen Samuels.
Fronted by former Supersoul Challenger singer Sean Slaughter, Clubber Lang’s sound is more metallic than Krimm’s heavy swamp rock, but both styles will make your arm involuntarily shoot into the air, fingers forming the horns of Baphomet as your head goes all bobble-doll.
Joey Nash churns out the meaty riffs and flashy fills, and he’s no slouch on the solos. He played Eddie Van Halen in a Clash of the Titans show a while back, and it sounds like Eddie guest starred on this album. Samuels is still a sick player, and bassist Ian Riley (also of Dead Man’s Clothes; see above) keeps the thunder rumbling.
Slaughter’s a strong vocalist, but like the Sun Gods’ Adam Hitchcock and Neil Collins of Murcielago, he doesn’t have a tone or delivery that really stands out the way Krimm’s Fred Dodge did. It’s like the difference between Rainbow with Dio and the band’s records with Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner — not bad; just not great.
Defeated has lots of chunky rock to chew on. Opener “Variety of Damage” is the best track here. Imagine a Pigboat song with dive-bomb guitar pyrotechnics and you’re there. “Cursed Man” sounds like an outtake from the Master of Puppets sessions, and both “Bow Down” and “Lame Duck” cut the mustard.
On the other hand, the big shout-along chorus of “What The Hell, Why Not?” gets old quickly, and you’ve heard its cro-mag beat way too many times before. You can easily get enough of “I Can Never Get Enough,” which comes dangerously close to Spinal Tap territory before going pop in a Queens of the Stone Age sorta way. Sorta.
Slaughter, who recorded and mixed the album in his home studio, throws in a lot of fun, creepy extras, like audio footage from the Jonestown gathering and the church bells and gun shots that start things off. The 10 tracks segue into one another, and Slaughter says Defeated is meant to be listened to “as a whole.” You’ll have to take his word on that.
This incarnation of Clubber Lang has only been together for a year or so. In that light, Defeated is a solid first step. So don’t drink the Flavor Aid yet, fellas. There’s a lot more rockin’ to be done.
— Chris Busby
For more on the band, visit myspace.com/clubberlangpredictspain or find their Facebook page.