Laser Flames on the Great Big News - Laser Flames on the Great Big News 01They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Well, this basic concept applies to dubious band names not always being indicative of the quality of the said band. And to throw a big goddamn spanner in the works as list season heats up, I recently came across the sophomore album from Nashville’s oddly named Laser Flames on the Great Big News. The term retro metal/rock gets bandied around a lot, due to the over-saturation of bands mining the freewheeling creativity of ’70s rock to varying degrees of success and very little originality. Lumping Laser Flames under the retro label would be a great disservice to the creativity and inventiveness the band conjures throughout the epic stoner odyssey of this self-titled release.

Cherry picking from stoner, doom, prog, classic rock, and sludge, without ever sounding forced, Laser Flames take the listener on an epic journey through psychedelically-tinged soundscapes, progressive gateways and brawny rock pastures, punctuated by seething bursts of metal. Impeccable musicianship, irresistible hooks, unpredictable twists, and complex arrangements set the platform for the quartet to shine. The mostly lengthy compositions are so well written and arranged that they seemingly fly by in half the time. Tasteful use of keys and the occasional banjo and violin serve to accentuate and flesh out songs driven by the engaging, groove-laden rhythm section and propelled to dizzying heights by the wonderful guitar dueling and vocal harmonies of Stephanie “Stevie” Bailey and John Judkins (Rwake). As a vocal/guitar combo, the duo share a unique chemistry and oodles of talent, making their presence felt and complimenting each other perfectly.

Following a short but vibrant intro, the bluesy rock of “31” kicks into life, finding the band at their most concise. It’s a strong primer for the more sprawling material to follow, showcasing the band’s gritty edge, Judkins’ smooth vocal hooks, and Bailey’s silky harmonizing. The song bounces roughly atop a catchy and groovy stoner rock base, sinking its hooks in deep. It proves only the tip of the iceberg, as the meat of the album features the band’s more adventurous, emotionally resonating and soulful moments, cushioned by proggy trips that never succumb to self-indulgence or aimless meandering. “Lashes” is a heartfelt slice of songwriting brilliance, led by the gritty, power and emotion-packed vocals of Bailey. The terrific, multi-faceted song structure finds Laser Flames expertly whipping their genre influences into an intoxicating brew with some truly touching softer passages, ripping guitar harmonies, and affecting melodies. Bailey’s vocals are wonderfully emotive and expressive, regardless of the diverse singing modes she switches between, often gliding from belting melodic lines to bluesy howls, fragile croons, and heavier vocal turns.

Laser Flames is an unpredictable force and just when you think you have the band pinned, they throw a big fucking curveball that fails to shatter the album’s overall cohesion. The dark and doomy “Open, Dead and Doomed” features a much heavier vocal and musical turn, demonstrating their metallic muscle and versatility. Scraping, dissonant guitar work, progressive flourishes, and hefty rock surges give way to a bruising climax of noisy blackened metal and a tortured multi-pronged vocal attack, featuring a guest turn by Steve Austin (Today is the Day). It’s a thoroughly gripping, nearly nine-minute beast, with elements that shouldn’t fit together but somehow do. “Beloved” is an equally powerful, hooky and dynamic number, loaded with memorable riffs, killer vocal harmonies and a gorgeous melancholic mid-section, bolstered by crunchy stoner rock riffage and heavy bouts of nasty sludge.

Laser Flames on the Great Big News are a cut above the retro pack, transcending their influences to forge something special, versatile and unique, not to be missed for aficionados of ’70s rock, prog and virtually every genre residing under the stoner/doom umbrella. Fans of bands like Jess and the Ancient Ones, Royal Thunder, Messa, Queens of the Stone Age, Masters of Reality and Sabbath Assembly should find plenty to love here.

Tracks to Check Out: “Lashes,” “Open, Dead & Doomed,” and “Beloved”


  • Eli Valcik

    Name too long, didn’t read.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    APPARENTLY I MISSED NOTHING

    • Thatguy

      Say no more.

    • lrn2swim

      WROOOOOONG. This shit’s tasty.

      • Brutalist_Receptacle

        ^^Verified Fake Russian Account^^

    • Matt slatz

      LMAO

  • AngryMetalBird

    Meh

  • PotaD0s

    I did may have missed this! I dig it too. December is normally a shithouse for new releases but between The Faceless, Diablo Swing Orchestra and Something else I may have missed but am making up for by playing non-stop, I’m straight covered in quality music.

    Don’t let these whiny plebs get you down Saunders. This is good stuff and a good write up.

    • LR

      I had no idea about the new DSO, thanks.
      And yeah, great review

    • herrschobel

      “whiny plebs”….suits ’em …goddamn whiny plebs …

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Sounds intriguing based on the name drops. I’ll check it out!

  • Bas

    Need to listen to this! The review makes me curious!
    Lots of things to listen to before compiling my end of the year list. Just got the new Galactic Cowboy :-)

  • Excentric_13073

    NO.

  • welyyt

    The new Jess and the Ancient Ones album is really fun.

  • Gena Gorin

    This one is lame.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Can you miss Adimiron or ROSK?

  • P.K.

    Thanks for pointing this one out. Just to show how unique this sound is, I actively dislike every band named in your last paragraph (ok, I may not have heard Messa) yet I like this.

    • Aguy

      Messa is not like the others listed, it’s way doomier. At least, that’s how I remember it.

    • tool

      From those, Messa is the closest comparison to me, in terms of how wild and unexpected the whole album is.

  • Wilhelm

    Cool song

  • Panagiotis Krokidas

    Jess, Royal Thunder, Sabbath Assembly… Gee. Like a gathering of all my heavy-related music horrors.

    Thanks for the name dropping at the end. It saved me some precious minutes of trying to find something worth listening out of the embedded track!

  • herrschobel

    usually not my kind a game …… but this rocks … thanks for finding and sharing ….

  • Innit Bartender

    Sold.
    Plus, another victim of the “cheap font on album cover to look even retro-ier”.

  • Solrac Avan

    I prefer my Flames preceded by prepositions instead of Lasers, but this sounds promising.

  • This is really good. Very much their own sound and the vocalists compliment each other perfectly. Despite the different elements they utilize, it all sounds very natural. There’s a certain rawness to it that I like as well. Nice find.

  • Slimylimey

    Is the laser giant, and if so can I hump it?

  • De2013

    Instant addiction. This sounds so old school and yet so fresh.

    And who doesn’t longs for an occasional banjo from time to time?

    Great review and great pick.

  • Jon Hartley

    Goddamn, this is some hot shit. Only listened to the embedded track so far, but I dig it! Thanks for pointing it out or it would have fallen into the musical abyss, never to be found or loved.

  • tool

    Yep this one has hooked me. Thanks fellas!

    I wish Lashes would last forever, I get quite uneasy when I anticipate the nice vibes of that track ending and it moves to the menacing vibes of the next one.

  • Strapping Old Fart

    Thank you. This is brilliant.