What’s in a name? Plenty, as it happens. It’s unlikely that the players in Bongzilla or Weedeater thought that their names would conjure images of K-Pop or outlaw country, and so it is with Weed Demon. Coming a good three years after their Stoned To Death EP, Astrological Passages is a 50-minute journey into bongs and bigness for the herbally-minded - but is it any good?
Yes and no. The myriad of touchstones on this 5-track release are enough to engage many spheres of heavy music, making their leaf-shaped Venn diagram an intriguing one. There’s a Melvins-ian taut slackness to “Primordial Genocide”, the band’s psychier side blooming through beautifully in places. Elder get a tip of the hat as well, and while there are few minutes that furrow the soil like “Unholy Ritual” from their first release, the vast scope of “Sigil Of The Black Moon” should satiate even the most ardent weedian.
Check out Weed Demon’s “Sigil of The Black Moon” single here.
The final track, "Jettisoned", is a magnificent number; 12 and a half minutes of sludge, harmonica wailing and perfectly slothful groove that makes the likes of Earthless seem needlessly frantic by comparison. Devoid of vocals but full of engaging dynamism and a real narrative, if it’s indicative of where Weed Demon are headed it’s extremely exciting indeed. The same could not be said of "Dominion Of Oblivion", which is pedestrian and a bit pony. It’s perilously easy to fall into orthodoxy bordering complacency in the stoner universe, and this track falls leagues short of stalwarts like Sleep, with the vocals sounding half-hearted and flat.
If any real criticism were to be laid at the feet of Astrological Passages, it’s the singing. Initially charmingly baked, by the half-way point their keening monotony starts to grate, siphoning off the stately blaze of the material. Weed Demon have shown themselves to be a very competent stoner band – even if that description sells them a bit short – and the vocals on Stoned To Death were nowhere near as wonky.
Originally released on August 18, 2017, the album is being issued on Vinyl on July 27, 2018.
This is a good album, marred by a factor that shouldn’t have caused any problems whatsoever. That being said, if enjoyed as intended it’s unlikely this would cause the listener any undue stress, so explore this, safe in the knowledge that their next record should be pretty special.
Astrological Passages Track Listing:
01. Astrological Passages
02. Primordial Genocide
03. Sigil Of The Black Moon
04. Dominion Of Oblivion
Run Time: 49:22 Release Date: August 18, 2017 / Reissued: July 27, 2018 Record Label: Daily Grind / Dissonant Society