Remember the days when Ozzy Osbourne and co were scaring the bejesus out of all and sundry with their satanic riffs and enormous bell-bottoms? No? Well here comes a record that is going to practically force you to break out those loon pants and start wearing purple headbands.
Picking up where bands like Kyuss left off, Dead Meadow have taken stoner rock and dipped the blueprint in quality acid. Make no mistake, in places this is hefty stuff, the doom-laden riff that hits you round the head on opening track Let’s Jump In will convince you of that.
That said, they have an uncanny ability to drift away from tight structures and take you tripping through immense instrumental passages without ever becoming boring. This in itself is a pretty incredible trick. Many is the band that has played the stoner card and ended up just sounding, well, just stoned really.
There is certainly a prog element to what Dead Meadow are doing. One look at the lyrics and you will quickly discover allusions to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven (always a staple of any American rock band’s diet) and sections that read a little like shaman poet’s ramblings. This is not necessarily a bad thing, although admittedly lyrics steeped in mysticism can have a similar effect to delivering pizza while roller-skating: you can end up with cheese in your wheels. But Dead Meadow are able to pull it off admirably, and fortunately, there are grooves running like leylines throughout Feathers.
To describe Dead Meadow as being entirely derivative however would be to do them a disservice. Certainly there are elements of Black Sabbath and more recent bands such as Sleep in their sound, but they are more than capable of mixing things up and sounding entirely original too.
Not only that, but they do not limit themselves to grinding guitars. At Her Open Door could fit on a psychedelic compilation with ease, whilst the murmured vocals and a lightly strummed guitar of Stacy’s Song show a gentle side to the band that most Stoner bands would have trouble coming to terms with.
They finish off with a suitably huge jam (weighing in at around a quarter of an hour) that is hypnotic, engaging, and perhaps a little self-indulgent. Through the Gates of the Sleepy Silver Door is the sound of Dead Meadow growing feathers and flying to the stars. If you have any sense you’ll hook on to their bell-bottoms and grab them before they fly too close to the sun.