Stream: Maharaja & The Temple Of… Sludge?
What do Baroness‘ Red Album, Red Fang, and red eyes have in common?
Normally, here is where someone covering a sludgy stoner metal band would attempt to assuage the reader’s apprehension about whether or not the band in question is yet another banal/gutless/derivative/generic/boring/blah genre-diluting incarnation, but thankfully I don’t need to do any of that trite shit because Maharaja alleviate those common concerns within the first minutes of their upcoming album Kali Yuga (which translates from Sanskrit to mean “Age of Destruction”).
See? This actually has some hair on its balls, whisky on its breath, smoke in its lungs, and some bloody sweat on the frets.
“Our intent is to break amps, disorient, and make people throw up” – Eric (Vocals/Bass)
That! That is what more stoner bands need to attempt. Fuck sitting in your hand-me-down 2012 Yaris casually puffing on a flimsy cafe-appropriate vape-pen while signing some innocuous Change.org petitions making sure to mask the scent with a covert misting of your favourite pocket-sized Dove deodorant before heading off to pick up your sister Regan from her pilates class for lactose-free teens. Get angry, blast an oil-laced scoob, tell your waifu-hugging brother Chas to maybe engage with his family for once and help out instead of relentlessly jacking it to cartoon tiddies in his musty bedroom. And for fuck’s sake, play some dirty goddamn riffs. How did a sub-genre full of grubby stoners become so sterile? No wonder there are so many psychedelic drone artists popping up on Bandcamp these days, the influx of tame boxed-in pentatonic meandering made it taboo for anyone with half a lick of inspiration to attempt to gain traction in the metal scene. They’d rather make a single 82 minute name your price track of ritual ambient music than partake in something as unanimously boring as modern stoner music. Not Maharaja though. Thank fuck.
From the first fuzzy flings of “Blood Moon” through to the final string-straining stabs of 7 minute closer “I, Undying”, Maharaja leave no question as to whether or not they’ve given their all on this recording. This is the kinda dank album that gets you all sweaty just listening to it, let alone playing it. A dense reverberating bass current features prominently throughout the album, and had the performances of either Angus (guitars) or Zack (drums) not been equally powerful, this could have easily sucked the record down into the proverbial sludge pit of no return. Similar to the way in which Beastwars‘ most recent album virtually rode its thicccc bass across ever-sinking terrain, Kali Yuga sits comfortably atop the lumbering behemoth, letting it do the leg-work leaving the hands free to do as they please. And what do they do with this extra freedom? Riff. They riff.
Traversing the continually colliding continental shelves of stoner, psych, and sludge, the riffing seems to possess the energy of a sativa high whilst simultaneously thumping with an indica-level heft; all the while the tempo fluidly oscillates with pleasant psilocin-esque peaks and troughs. Think of a sweet-spot somewhere between High On Fire‘s thunderous tumult and those raw rockin’ Red Fang vibes, go on think about it…almost…just a little to the left…yeah, right there. Mmmmmm. When combined with the vocals, I get strong flashbacks to when Baroness sounded like a band yet to be deflated by whatever the fuck burst their bubble around 2010. Anyway, they’re irrelevant now because we can just kick back today and jam this instead. Good times.