Label: Dancing Sasquatch Records
Released: April 2009
So much stoner and doom rock tends to be an exercise in heaviness alone. While that certainly has its place, few people can take the steady bludgeoning that it offers even as it fills that need in all who really love heavy metal for the mind-numbing weight of slow, trudging riffs that take Tony Iommi to the extreme. Sometimes, however, a band offers such crushing power in a more dynamic form that respects the song as well as pushing the limits of the heavy in metal.
Like Kyuss and Clutch before them, Maryland’s Admiral Browning is just such band. The five tunes that make up Magic Elixir are quite a ride. Sure, there’s the standard downtuned sludgy riffs, but, unlike most of their peers, that’s only a small part of what Admiral Browning has in their heavy bad of tricks. Instead of going on ad infinitum, songs will suddenly take off with wild, frenetic energy or slip into spacey, psychedelic ramblings. They even through in some brighter, more colorful progressive hard rock, à la Rush, and it fits with strange perfection in the same song with hard rock freakouts.
The whole album really builds up to “Speaking in Tones,” the 13 minute opus that closes the album proper. All the parts, stoner rock, psychedelia, prog, come together into Admiral Browning’s unique vision of what heavy metal can and should be when its limits evaporate in the ground zero where they split musical atoms.
The untitled coda is a less structured jam that lets Magic Elixir down easy after an exhilarating ride into what can be. Its vaguely incomplete nature just begs the question, “What’s next?”
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