Space Coke – Lunacy Review

Stoner doom, for as hallucinatory as their source material seems to be, tends to be fairly straightforward: just take some Black Sabbath riffs and crank the distortion while smoking some dope. I’ve tended to avoid these bands for this reason, that the latest iteration of Sleep isn’t something that gets my gears grinding. I’m already skeptical of heavy and doom metal, so why would I go for anything that is just an amped-up version of them? Well, why don’t you just ask Space Coke? “If the amp don’t smoke, it ain’t Space Coke,” after all.

They call themselves “psychedelic sludge,” and it’s pretty accurate. These South Carolina natives love their fuzz and drugs. Lunacy is the quartet’s sophomore full-length, influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Sun Ra, and Jimi Hendrix, embracing the modern stoner-doom aesthetic while paying homage to psychedelic rock’s greatest stars. Five tracks of thick riffs, warbly effects-laden vocals, and Twilight Zone-esque atmosphere greet the ears with disorienting opaqueness and dizzying density. Playing a bit like astrology-obsessed Rwake‘s Voice of Omens stuck in the 60’s, Lunacy finds the act embracing the journey, and finding that their psychedelic tendencies actually transcend stoner doom antics.

For once, a stoner doom band doesn’t just sound like Black SabbathSpace Coke feels like heavy, heavy drugs. The only form of concreteness is the weight of the riffs that hit like a ton of it. Tracks like “Alice Lilitu,” “Frozen World,” and “Twist of Cain” fall into a groove that’s difficult to shake, featuring absolutely mammoth tone that maintains a droning icy edge about their swampy density, channeling that tasty Black Sabbath-on-steroids vibe. Riffs are utilized as a backbone, however, vintage electronic effects and vast arrays of Moog abuse add a jagged and vivacious edge, while whack-ass vocals and spoken word samples move with fluidity and organicity above the fray. Solos are tasteful and shredding, recalling the wild melodies of Jimi Hendrix‘s insane performances, their manic effects taking the rock-centric spill to the cosmos. The drug-fueled odyssey could have had the potential to spiral out of control, but Lunacy‘s storyline of space exploration and a doomed Earth grant it a gravitas that extends beyond the confines of your everyday stoner doom. Adding to the opaqueness is the vocal attack, which ranges from whacky vocoder warbles, distorted crooning, to reverb-laden shouts put way into the back.

Space Coke sounds like aliens landing at Woodstock during a Pink Floyd set in an alternate universe, but that doesn’t mean that these guys have it all together. Lunacy lives up to its name, but the youth of the act leads to excessive indulgence in swampy riffs. The jarring movements of “Lightmare,” for example, dwell too heavily on overly simplistic chord progressions and atonal atmospherics, making its eight-minute length go on for too long. Similarly, the nearly thirteen-minute “Alice Lilitu,” while at times featuring the most memorable riffs and vocal chops of the album, drags on doing too little as the end rolls around. A casualty of its placement, “Bride of Satan” likewise ends up feeling milquetoast compared to the second track because of its relatively generic central riff.

Overall, Lunacy is a ride. It sets itself apart from most stoner doom shenanigans thanks to its extreme psychedelia and actually sounding like drugs, but youth dooms it from truly soaring into the LSD-induced cosmos. Striking a balance of two aesthetics that appeals to fans of classic psychedelic rock and those of modern stoner doom, Space Coke earns its name with much gusto. While its story keeps it grounded, it ends up feeling like a trip to an interstellar Taco Bell with your furry stoner friend (Star Wars?) to satisfy the munchies rather than the epic space odyssey the band is capable of. But like a crunchwrap supreme at 3 AM on Venus, it sure does satisfy.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Forbidden Place Records
Website: facebook.com/SpaceCokeSC | spacecoke.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: January 14th, 2022

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