Acid Mammoth – Caravan Review

Stoner doom. Cool, now that two-thirds of the readers have scurried away, let’s get down to brass tacks. This genre is fucking plagued. To find prime specimens in this genre is a rare feat indeed, and as I write this I realize even I only have one or two, maybe three records to offer as modern examples of such. Everything else sounds like a litter of indistinguishable duplicates to me. Greek quartet Acid Mammoth should be able to break that mold, though, right? First of all, they’ve got one of the best metal logos in recent times. Second of all, they occupy the darker side of the stoner doom spectrum without extending into more extreme genres, so there’s also that gravity to consider which might elevate the music above the usual snoozefest, don’t you think?

Sadly, not so much. Acid Mammoth do their best with the sound that they adopt, but they still sound exactly like what you expect this genre to sound like. Mammoth riffs delivered at a glacial pace, which is only barely more energetic than funeral doom, take center stage. Above that stage swaggers the sneering vocals that recall Ozzy with a slight cold (which, honestly, is a mild compliment now that I’ve spent some time with this), and below it lies a veritable desert of fuzz and lumbering drum lines. The record is predictably blocky in sound and dreary in atmosphere, which does admittedly give it the exact right tone for a band that crafts pachydermic doom.

Other things that this band does right are cymbals. If there’s one thing that I unconditionally love about Caravan, it’s the cymbal tones drummer Marios Louvaris conjures. Just listen to those absolutely perfect splashes in “Psychedelic Wasteland” and “Black Dust,” or the satisfying crash in “Caravan.” In, fact the drumming across this wasteland of mediocre riffs and uninspired songwriting threatens to save the record all on its own. Marios doesn’t play fast, but playing slow is often more difficult because doing so requires deliberate choices and more precise timing to keep momentum up. Fuck it up, and everyone hears it. Marios does not fuck it up.

Unfortunately, Acid Mammoth don’t leave me with much else to praise. “Black Dust” and “Berserker” win the award for album highlights, as the former has a legitimately enjoyable riff collection, and the latter offers the only memorable chorus put to tape. If I think hard enough, I can also give a shoutout to “Ivory Towers” for having a catchy main verse as well. As for the rest, I can’t recall. This simple phrase alone characterizes the biggest issue on Caravan—I don’t remember most of it mere moments after I turn it off. At times, I forget what the second song (“Psychedelic Wasteland”) sounds like by the time I reach the end of the third song’s (“Ivory Towers”) first minute. There’s something unbalanced about the pacing here as well. Caravan tops out at forty minutes, but it feels almost twice as long. It isn’t repetitive, either, so it must be that each song adopts such a similar tempo that distinguishing my place in the runtime becomes more difficult than it should be, drawing out the experience far past the comfort zone.

Trust me when I tell you that if, on album four, Acid Mammoth beef up their riffs to match the drummer’s quality performance and throw in enough captivating passages to fill the space in between, they’ll have something worth writing about. As it stands, Caravan is unremarkable to a fault. There aren’t nearly enough hooks to keep me interested, and the only way I can make it through the tight forty minutes offered here is by gawking at the drums. That’s a mammoth problem, but it’s one that I think Acid Mammoth can hunt down and tame. Once that’s done, they might be capable of carrying the entire genre by themselves. Only time will tell.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Heavy Psyche Sounds
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 5th, 2021

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