Thursday, September 13, 2012

Linus Pauling Quartet - (2012) Bag of Hammers

Pure guitar muscle and Texas Stoner Metal Psych insanity with universal themes like drugs, beer, sci-fi/fantasy, and Bongs of Power. If you like your riffs heavy, the solos unyielding, and the smell of the bong to billow out of your stereo, the Linus Pauling Quartet is your band.

It has been five full Earth solar cycles since the last Linus Pauling Quartet studio album, All Things Are Light. In the intervening years, the band has roamed these great lands in search to the heaviest of forms. The keys to the forms do not present themselves readily to mortals and the quest often leads many to madness or death. As such, little has been known from this band of travelers in the past few years beyond Horns of Ammon which, while issued two years ago, was actually written in the years leading up to ATAL. Many considered the quest foolhardy and, given their long absence, had thought them dead. Yet, despite all odds, the band has indeed returned – stronger, older, wiser, and ready to reclaim the throne of their land.

Through those years, they traveled to the highest mountains in search of men and women who were as ancient as they were wise. They have sought out lost texts of the ancients at great peril. They have basked in the love of the most beautiful of Elvin women and suffered the hatred and violence of the foulest mountain orcs. They have risen to untold riches and fallen to the ranks of beggars scrambling for stale bread tossed aside in village markets. Yet, through it all, they managed to honor the fellowship and attain those long sought after forms that would, though sheer magnitude of their mystical powers, yield unimaginable dimensions only visible upon the opening of the seventh eye.

Bag of Hammers represents the culmination of these years – an instrument by which listeners, partaking in the ancient ritualistic burning of the herb, can break down the walls before them and attain the pure, majestic, plenary seventh level of heaviness. 

Upon hearing about the new release form these Texans, I had heard of Linus in the past, but couldn't remember anything they had previously recorded. So I began trying to troll through the internet to get a grasp on their older stuff to compare it with the new album "Bag of Hammers". Upon doing so I realized this band has released many albums dating back to 1995. Most of that early stuff is labeled as "Texas Psyche" whatever that it is. I guess its like regular psychedelic rock that happens to come from Texas. The bits I heard from random YouTube clicks didn't do much for me.

The Quartet however seems to have taken a new approach to their sound with "Bag of Hammers". Adding layers of fuzz on top of the psyche and giving it just enough old school metal flavor to keep me interested. The title track "Crom" is a balls out rocker, reminding of the retro doom groove of the band "The Sword". "Victory Gin" takes this style and throws verses in that remind me of an almost 60's style sound. All the while keeping the fuzz intact and the groove strong. "Starchimp" lies heavily in the 70's, spaced-out and again, groovin', reminding me a bit of the old underrated band from the late 80's/early 90's Mudhoney. "Rust" features the haunting vocals of Mlee Larie, and is a real tripped-out and noisy gem, with plenty of wah pedal and cool overdubs.

"Bag of Hammers" is real treat to these ears and offers alot to the listener. The best way to describe them is to compare them to other bands, I know people usually hate that, especially the bands themselves, but  I'm gonna do it anyway. If you take equal parts Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, Blue Cheer and The Sword you come pretty close to the sounds on the new Linus Pauling Quartet offering. And it works.

-Adam Walsh

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