1968 – Ballads of the Godless (2018) REVIEW

Ah, 1968 a year where rock music delivered solace to the fools of the western world mired in the Vietnam War and sorely beaten down by the callous murders of civil rights revolutionaries. If there is any decade today’s adults aren’t learning from it is absolutely the 1960’s but in terms of music we’ve all certainly felt fewer revolutions in rock music since. I personally go straight to Deep Purple‘s second album ‘The Book of Taliesyn’ thanks to Rod Evans‘ mysterium-spawned performance and Jon Lord‘s timeless brilliance… but the year brought debuts from Blue Cheer, Taj Mahal, the now Gilmour infused Pink Floyd, as well as classic albums from The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young. History would see the birth of Led Zeppelin, the death of Cream and the thankful cancellation of that horrible The Monkees television show all in 1968. Whether you see the forest for the trees or not, this was essentially the birth of heavy music and this is the simple inspiration for the stoney hard rock and heavy metal jam of 1968.

But hey, hold the damn phone […aren’t you always holding your phone((?))] eh, hold up because 1968 aren’t at all a 70’s throwback group or a ‘retro’ rock outfit, in fact they’re a rock hard, sleepy stoner metal band that leans towards early Sleep, sludge rock era Soundgarden and some Thin Lizzy inspired guitar work over the top. They might be too moody (or heavy) for a Rival Sons or 1000mods show but they’d fit in just right opening for Kadavar or Corrosion of Conformity. So, for all of that thinking about the late 60’s and early 70’s proto-metal grooves they inspire 1968 are peddling a dance between huge, sativa-laced 90’s stoner metal riffs and some of the post-millennium indica hybrid feel of desert rock. The whole thing makes my eyes droop while my head swings back slightly.

We’ve all heard a hundred thousand boring stoner rock albums with ‘bong’ or various colors in their name doing the same kinda thing; So, what stands out? What makes ‘Ballads of the Godless’ worth mention? That is where the nod to late 60’s psychedelia starts to make greater sense in terms of bluesy spaced-out lead guitar wrangling. My connection with the album really boiled down to a preference for psychedelic rock mushed in with a thick Wo Fat sort of sound. 1968‘s style runs a wide mile between the most high of stoner/doom metal and fairly typical neo-psych infused modern stoner rock. The songwriting more or less drops off after “McQueen” but those first six tracks go down damn smooth.

“The Hunted” sounds like a scrapped B-side for ‘America’s Volume Dealer’ and “Mother of God” is a filler jam that ends the album without consequence or importance but outside of it’s slightly soggy bottom ‘Ballads of the Godless’ is a heavy stoner album that flows together seamlessly. If you’ve ever dated (or just are) a stoner who gets creepier and more intense the higher they get you’ll understand the manic tension that 1968 hits upon when the riffs hit the fan. The best example is probably “Temple of the Acid Wolf” a creeptastic early Alice in Chains style boulder that rolls into a strong doom finale and keeping with that theme “Chemtrail Blues” honors that same hint of despair into one of the album’s more successful grooves. Any track I haven’t yet mentioned is a true standout that rocks hardest with the warm slide of “Devilswine” setting the perfect tone for the rest of the album while “Screaming Sun” and “McQueen” are obvious singles for hooking folks into 1968‘s harem.

‘Ballads of the Godless’ was a nice surprise as the tits and marijuana plants on the album art suggested a blandness that I never found sifting through 1968‘s latest. It is surely a ‘genre’ release that will primarily hit with the intended stoner rock/metal crowd but I’d say it’ll likewise be worthwhile if you’re a fan of the sort of stoner rock bands that came from the grunge/sludge movements of the 90’s (Snail, for example) and might even perk a few ears with classic rock fans discovering medical marijuana for the first time.

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Artist 1968
Type Album
Released July 6, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on 1968’s Bandcamp! Follow 1968 on Facebook
Genre Stoner Rock,
Stoner Metal

Revolutions previously viewed. 3.25/5.0

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