The up-tempo hard rock of Mos Generator rang through the coastal sleepiness of Port Orchard, Washington starting in 2000 and just as stoner rock began to achieve some mainstream recognition post-Kyuss and pending MeteorCity Records outcroppings. Their debut full-length followed quickly in 2001 and though it was an amateurish first ride, ‘Mos Generator’ offered a decent tumble through slightly modernized stoner rock. From there the grassy spirit of Sabbath and the stumbling Clutch-esque direction of ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’ in 2006 would be my first introduction to the band. After some brief stints of fandom for Nebula and Alabama Thunderpussy the hard rock/stoner rock landscape dropped off my radar and I more or less didn’t follow any releases for nearly a decade after. With little innovation and/or spirited releases few releases were compelling enough to love.
Fast forwarding to 2014, ‘Electric Magic Majesty’ was a memorable enough album that took a few risks in standing out at the time. Standard as it might have felt initially the album saw Mos Generator moving towards their own vision of stoner rock, with “Enter the Fire” in particular standing out. I consider post 2014 Mos Generator somewhere in the same ballpark as Truckfighters, Wo Fat, and post-‘Blast Tyrant’ Clutch. While I love the familiar style and improved songwriting of all bands I’ve mentioned so far, a lot of the sub-genre struggles to hold up to repeated listening. That might not be the band’s fault because I’m listening to stoner rock without being stoned, oops. ‘Shadowlands’ works around some of my stoner rock complaints with greater energy, detailed guitar work, and has that grasp of 70’s wonder but sped up and cranked loud.
When first digging in I heard the freedom of Trouble‘s ‘Manic Frustration’ and the self-conscious, blues-shocked streak of Earthless hybridized with a genuine love for the songwriting of early 70’s hard rock shining through in the guitar work. Where the eighteen years of work and wisdom shine through best is in the songwriting of ‘Shadowlands’. I’ve been listening to a fair amount of Night Sun, Atomic Rooster and newly discovered Truth & Janey in my free time this month and some of that era’s heavier songwriting language permeates Mos Generator‘s soul more than other ‘desert’/stoner rock bands still active. I almost wonder if it’ll be too much subtlety to latch onto for casual listening; I think most listeners do a disservice to rock music when skipping through tracks looking for five seconds of something to cling to before ducking out.
The same way a constant reader writes better I believe a die-hard listener understands a tracklist/set arrangement better than self-obsessed artist. My only meaning is that whoever arranged the experience of ‘Shadowlands’ put some notable thought in how it would play from start to finish, and on repeat. The title track is a brilliant high-energy opener and sets a great tone for the record. “The Loving Cup” and “The Destroyer” hail back to early Queens of the Stone Age rhythmic play with two of the more memorable tracks on the album. The vocal work and build of “Stolen Ages” reminded me of one of my favorite Swedish stoner rock bands Terra Firma and is probably my favorite track of the bunch. The only pieces that I totally shrugged at were the final two: “Woman Song” and “The Wild & Gentle Dogs” are fine enough songs in their own right but their sleepiness deflates the round butt of the album as it walks away and oh man, “The Blasting Concept” would have been a bone shattering finale on it’s own.
The more I just sat and let ‘Shadowlands’ roll out in front of me the more I clung to it’s rhythms and I even started to soak up some of the lyrics, a rare feat for me with this sort of rock record. It isn’t stoner metal, or focused on the Sabbath-ian heaviness or interplay of some of their earlier works, so it lands a bit further from my usual leanings but I got a kick out of rediscovering Mos Generator nonetheless. Absolutely preview “The Blasting Concept” and “Stolen Ages” to start, and if those don’t hit hard enough jump over to the title track. From there you should have a good idea of the places ‘Shadowlands’ explores.
|Released||May 11, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Listenable Records’ Bandcamp!||Follow Mos Generator on Facebook|
Hard Rock, Stoner Rock
Riding in crooked cages. 3.5/5.0
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