We’re up to our ears in stoner rock and stoner doom most months. There’s an unusual quantity of it cascading through the AMG sluice and pouring into the promo cesspool. We can’t cover it all, but we try to dent the stone. Greek stoner doom crew Acid Mammoth are part of the endless tide, with Under Acid Hoof being their second platter of fuzzy, bong-friendly madness. The blueprint is a simple one – bury the listener with big stoner riffs that borrow from Black Sabbath as much as they do from Kyuss and Electric Wizard, and try to lock into big hypnotic grooves that take one to the strange spaces between the sweet leaves. I know you’ve all sampled of these particular musical herbs before, so does this woolly beast bring any new experiences to the purple haze?
Nope. You’ve definitely heard what this herd brings to the watering hole, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be entertaining. Opener “Them!” rumbles to life with a big guitar sound that could have appeared on any Saint Vitus album of yore, and as the band kicks into a perpetual mid-gear, there’s a grinding feeling of inevitability to their playing. There’s just enough swagger to the riffs to make things feel loose, and Chris Babalis’ extremely Ozzy-esque vocals recall the early days of Sabbath very clearly. Long-form cut “Tree of Woe” is also adept at mixing slow riffs and droning doom vocals with enough rock elements to make things feel somewhat dynamic, and the stomping cadence at times conjures images of their tripped out namesake rampaging through the wild, crushing all in its wake.
Unfortunately, not every song find this ideal alchemy, and “Tusks of Doom” is droning, one-note and rather annoying in its deliver. It’s not awful, but just feels very tedious with nothing really popping to grab my attention. Later cuts like “Jack the Riffer” restore the balance somewhat, but as the album unwinds, the songs tend to bleed together into a thick paste of generic stoner riffs and increasingly monotonous vocals. This is hardly a unique issues in stoner metal. There needs to be enough dynamic shifts to keep things interesting, and that’s where Acid Mammoth stumbles. The songs are in many ways interchangeable, with the same structure and pace, and though the album is only 35 minutes, it ends up feeling longer.
The band is competent, and Chris Babalis along with fellow guitarist (and likely relative) Christos Babalis uncork some fun, beefy riffs that feel like you’d need several friends to help lug them from place to place. Chris’ vocals work well on some songs better than others but there’s a definite tedium factor that sets in over time as his delivery rarely changes or varies. Then again, neither does the pacing of the material. This might be something the band could work on going forward, because they clearly have the talent to make good music.
Under Acid Hoof isn’t a bad stoner doom album, nor is it an exceptional one. It sits in that middle tier where fans of the genre will find something worthwhile but few will sing the band’s praises as a giant in the scene. I like aspects of the album, but I can’t enjoy the whole thing in one shot due to the aforementioned issues. If you need a constant influx of new stoner doom in your life, get under the hoof, but there are better examples of the style out there to be had. That logo is world class though.