Stoner doom can frequently be heard in the House of Cherd. I enjoy it in my rotation, being, as I am, of Doom. Mrs. Cherd, however, takes particular delight in it. Whenever we’re doing housework to one of her playlists, it’s not uncommon for three Windhand songs from different albums to be followed by Bongzilla, then Electric Wizard, all while she promises that there are other genres in there and the next song probably won’t be stoner doom. There are few things that bring her more pleasure than a thick riff and trippy vocals, especially when delivered by a woman. “Ugh! I like it filthy!” she’ll exclaim, and when I stop what I’m doing and raise an eyebrow, she’ll flatly add “I mean the guitar.” Our nine month old Cherdlet soaks it all up like second hand smoke. He’s pre-lingual, so it’s hard to know how this affects him, but his fine motor functions and socialization seem right on track, so he’s probably fine. What I’m saying is, I hear a lot of stoner doom, and it takes a lot for a band of that style to rise above the also-rans as far as I’m concerned. So does Superlynx make the podium?
Opener “Hex” is a fitting median of how the rest of New Moon, the second album from these Norwegians, plays out. Woozy female vocals courtesy of Pia Isaksen, who also pulls bass duty, float over a mix of stoner doom and occult rock in a style not unlike Alunah or King Woman, which means this is prime Mrs. Cherd bait. Distinguishing Superlynx slightly from similar artists is Daniel Bakken’s guitar work, which consistently incorporates a vaguely Spanish flavor to his leads, and Ole Teigan’s unusually busy (for the style) drumming. Aside from this, New Moon plays mostly to tropes with mixed results.
On the album’s best tracks, there are subtle but unmistakable attempts at genre variation. Toeing the stoner line, “New Moon” sports both the best riff and the hookiest chorus, making it exactly the kind of song you add to your Dark Ladies of Doom playlist. “These Children That Come At Us With Knives”—go ahead and take a moment with that title—builds around a trippy, psychedelic lilt. It’s as hippie as doom metal gets without going full desert rock, and is a nice lead-in to perhaps the most versatile track on New Moon. After six songs of largely down-the-middle doom, “Scarecrow” suddenly introduces an up-tempo garage rock swagger that nicely contrasts Isaksen’s monotone vocals. The song slows back down near the end with a nifty guitar line before going out on one more energetic blast. It’s a fun song, but has the unfortunate side effect of making me wish they incorporated this approach more than once, because the album as a whole could really use it.
Ultimately, New Moon suffers from the same troubles as so many other middle-of-the-pack stoner doom albums that shamble along to the same adagio. While aiming for “sultry incantation” vocals, Isaksen too often undershoots and lands on “sleepy,” showing a range far short of the style’s better singers. On the album’s weakest songs, riffs become rote and shortcomings from songwriting to performance become distracting. “Indian Summer” is a particular low point, with moments of odd vocal phrasing and drums that seem a half-step off the rest of the instruments. Speaking of, production clips off some of the low-end, resulting in drums that click more than they boom. Penultimate song “The Groove” is completely forgettable until semi-harsh vocals are introduced and seem to exist mainly to demonstrate why they don’t appear elsewhere.
During a listening session of New Moon in our domicile, I mentioned to the Missus my intended score for the album. As is often the case, she suggested I was pooping the party and left the room. Probably to add Superlynx to her already lengthy stoner doom playlist. Well, this is my review, not hers, and I stick by my score. After adjusting it up slightly to show that I do listen to her sometimes. Compromise is the name of the marriage game folks.