Oct 24, 2011
Ogressa - Warts And All ...
Remember when the whole desert rock, stoner rock, doom whatever you want to call it scene exploded in the 90's. Remember how cool it was when almost every stoner rock album that was released was great, remember hearing Goatsnake for the first time? Hearing Ogressa's 'Warts and All' has brought that feeling back again. This is pure desert-rock, doom revival stuff but done to perfection. It is pretty rare when an album gets put on repeat in my house but this CD hasn't left the CD player for days. The band is a side project of Zach Huskey, the guitarist/vocalist for the equally brilliant Dali’s Llama but this is a different beast all together. Check out who else is in the band; Trent Ramseyer from Whores of Tijuana on vocals and percussion), Ian Dye (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Mike Jacobson (bass), Scott Reeder (yes, Scott Reeder!), and Joe Dillion (guitar). Reeder plays on 3 out of the 10 songs but more about those killer tunes in a minute.
The first thing that hits you when you press play on this animal is this is very different from Dali's Llama. This is heavier, dirtier, more doom-laden and with a heavy southern rock twist and sabbathian grooves. Before I go any further, I have to mention the stunning artwork and packaging. I have posted the layout here just so you can see for yourself, this is a complete package. The artwork is incredible but wait, the music is also impressive. The album kicks off with the monster riff that drives 'Give Me Some Space' which is a track that sounds like mid 70's Black Sabbath. It has a heavy, stomping groove but is nicely broken up with acoustic sections. The production is beautifully clean but huge so it gives each instrument an equal billing in the spotlight. Guitars are distorted but not overly so, just the right amount to give it that warm but sabbathy crunch. Second tune, 'Mange' is even heavier with more sabbathian grooves but the band is pushing the sludge levels right up there on this track. There is some inventive drumming to go along with the ponderous, elephantine grooves. This leads into 'Rational Man' with Scott Reeder supplying the bass. At first the tune is very doomy before it drops into some whiskey-soaked, southern fried 70's rock. The lead work is spectacular throughout the entire album but it really stands out in this tune. Huskey's leads tend to sound like a psychedelic take on the southern rock style of lead-playing and it one of the band's real strong points.
'She Awakens' is nothing more that an odd interlude with strange noises and effects but it does set the mood for the very doomy 'Lady Ogress.' This is perhaps the "doom" highlight of the album. It is a miserable, dark chunk of traditional doom and sludge that is not that far removed from Saint Vitus and it is quite a surprise considering the style that Zach Huskey usually plays in Dali’s Llama. This is lackadaisical, spiritless doomy sludge that is oppressive and menacing, another highlight. 'The Boss' a cover of a tune by a band called The Mutants and I have no idea who that band is or were but I can say, this track kills. This is another track featuring Reeder and you can really spot his bass playing on this one. The track that follows however is pure Kyuss worship, this tune titled 'Sonoran Debris' takes you back to a time when desert rock was at its peak. Nothing new or ground-breaking about this track but 100% satisfying and also very trippy in its own way. 'Cuts on my Scars' continues with the band in total riff-rock mode; nothing too amazing here but still an infectious tune just the same. Given the strength of the rest of the album, this is perhaps the albums weakest track but that only highlights how good this album is.
'Snakehead' brings back the heavy mountain-sized doomy sludge riffage for a monster tune filled with slow, atmospheric intensity with a side order of blues. The album ends on 'Animal Mask' which is more classic desert rock/sludge hybrid material till its gets to the last-minute or so when it explodes into a fury of punky metal crossover that steamroll's the album till its conclusion. Without a doubt, this album is a surprise. It is pure classic desert rock, doom and sludge that is up there with anything released in desert rock's golden 90's period. Fans of Kyuss, Saint Vitus, Acid King, Earthride and pretty much everything ever released on Mans Ruin records should go nuts over this. This is not reinventing anything but nor does it have to, it stands out on its own as a classic release within the genres I have mentioned in this review. The only negative I can come up with is the albums second half is weaker than the first half but really not by much. This is an all-round, solid slab of stoner, doom, sludge crossover that is written, played, and produced to perfection.............9/10.
Dali's Llama Records
Ogressa @ Myspace