- Audio CD (Feb. 5 2008)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Enhanced
- Label: Matador Records
- ASIN: B00109T8LW
- Other Editions: Audio CD | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,279 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Old Growth Enhanced
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A remarkably clear, powerful, and confident recording that should elevate the trio into the pantheon of the great guitar bands of our time. Darlings of both the stoner rock and the modern psychedelia worlds, Dead Meadow transcend both and have created a sound all their own. Packaging includes CD in digipak with tipped-in booklet featuring a gorgeous painting by LA artist Charles Wish. CD enhanced with bonus video. Featured in the movie "Such Hawks, Such Hounds" about heavy music of the past eight years. The film is named after a Dead Meadow song and will premier at SXSW. "Deafening riffs from outer space delivered in perfect slow motion" - Drowned In Sound.
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And in "Old Growth," they keep doing what they do best -- vintage hard rock, tinged with some bluesy psychedelica, metal and stoner riffs, with the occasional ballad, and striking lyrics with a sense of fantasy. The newly relocated band lays out a powerful, dark musical experience that sticks to their signature sound, but is able to twist in a few new sounds.
It opens with some odd echoing sounds... and blossoms into a powerful, muscular riff that languidly twines itself through the whole song. Over the ringing bassline, Jason Simon drawls out a string of languidly dissatisfied lyrics: "Their silence is golden/they watch their man... the sun shines away/there's nothing to say/people will talk anyway...."
They try out a tighter sound in the follow-up, the stripped-down Southern-rocker "Between Me and the Ground," before winding into the fuzzy, darkly angular "What Needs Must Be." Those two sets a certain sound that they continue throughout the album -- ominous dark hard-rock, languid bass-twisters, eerie fantastical folk-rock, some low-burning rockers.
They even mix in a couple of uneasy, relatively gentle little ballads, tinged with some electric guitar but mostly acoustic. And one of their most striking songs is "Seven Seers," a sinuous little folk melody played with some flickers of grimy keyboard. Think medieval hard rock with a bit of metal here and there. Sure, it resembles nothing else in the album, but it's pretty good.
It must be admitted that "Old Growth" doesn't really grow in any particular direction -- like Dead Meadows' last album "Feathers," they grind through dark, earthy stoner-rock, without the need to throw in catchiness or artificial highs. But they do it so well, so powerfully, that lack of change really doesn't affect them. It's just such good music, with very powerful musical skills and solidly written lyrics.
And that comes from the instrumentation -- a dark, simmering, sometimes blazing sea of guitars and bass. These guys don't try to show off, but they fill their music with powerful ringing riffs that twist into blazing melodies, paired with fuzzy muscular bass that runs just underneath it. It's a little like being swept off by a very small tidal wave.
And of course it's riddled with solid drums, and a touch of Doors-esque keyboard to add an otherworldly flavour. But Dead Meadow injects a couple other sounds -- they dabble in a mellow acoustic guitar from time to time, and even add a bit of sitar to their harder melodies, giving it a retro flavour.
I have to confess, I often can't understand what Simon is singing. His rough, lazy-sounding voice drawls through the music as if he's just been woken up, but you can hear glimpses of dark, languid lyrics with a fantastical edge: "No longer knowing night from day/I woke with the stars/I think you know your radiant form/pierces the dark..."
Dead Meadow doesn't go anywhere new in "Old Growth," but they continue the weird, wild, exquisitely hard style that they've done so well in the past. Definitely grows on you.
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Then I finally gave it a second chance, and well, it's not the Dead Meadow of old (of course not, this was 8 years after the debut), it's certainly not bad. Dead Meadow continues the path they laid before them on Feathers, and this is a much mellower vibe then previous releases. It's still very psychedelic, but it's more of a pastoral twangy vibe than a crushing riff vibe. The songs are a little easier to digest, there's no 9 minute behemoths on here like The White Worm or One & Old. It's a little easygoing this time, and rambles in a good way.
Of course, my favorite songs are the heavier tracks. The opening track, Ain't Got Nothing To Go Wrong, has a great climatic head trip jam at the end which I dug, and Til Kingdom Come, the heaviest track on the album, just feels massive. These guys know how to lay on a good hypnotic groove.
But elsewhere, you'll find them taking some mellow detours, whether it's the strummed I'm Gone, the balladry of Either Way, or the Eastern-flavored Seven Seers. This band still rocks, and they rock hard, but it's slightly different from the earlier days.
I can't wait for the next album, that's for sure. Only been about 4 years. What's the holdup, guys?