Saturday 26 March 2016

Snowburner - Future Primitive (Album Review)

Release date: January 22nd 2016. Label: Freebird Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Future Primitive  – Tracklisting

1. Blizzard of Gain 3:32
2. Ride the Tide 3:41
3. You Blues, You Lose 2:28
4. Reelin’ in the Wasted Years 3:04
5. Stabbed on the Throne 5:10
6. Haunt Me No Longer 3:24
7. Reap the Sown 3:26
8. Ashes in the West 3:46
9. Vultures at Bay 7:11
10. Bailiff’s Blues 2:52

Band Members:

Arjan Zuijderduijn – Guitars
Badr van der Meijden – Guitars
Jan van der Plas – Drums
Jop Hoekstra – Vocals & Bass


Back in January 2016, I pre-ordered this album almost as a blindfold purchase based solely on the track ‘Ride the Tide’ as the only song streaming online from Snowburner’s debut full length entitled ‘Future Primitive’. If you too have listened to that track you know I was no fool for pulling the trigger that fast and upon having listened to the entire album multiple times, in fact so many I have lost count, I can without hesitation state that ‘Future Primitive’ never fail to deliver on the promise waved with Ride The Tide.

The whole album slays and hits you with a solid mix of heavy stoner fuzz and boogie desert rock with a metalic edge. It’s packing so much punch its sure to knockout any mainstream radio rock listener. The 10 tracks on ‘Future Primitive’ will without a doubt appeal to any fan of Fu Manchu, Lo-Pan, Truckfighters, Clutch and Kyuss. One thing that needs your attention upfront, apart from the four skilled Dutch fuzz-wave-riders obvious keen-ear for smooth mid-paced stoner rock, is the production. Oh man, the production on this record, is good, and not just average stoner-doom good, no, it’s REALLY good.

The guitars sounds warm and soothing, yet super heavy and on the brink of melting my speakers. The drums comes through the mix with so much power I can almost feel the punch from them in my chest. The bass is thick and molten and vibrates just below everything. Whats strikes me here is how well each instrument is defined, yet never leading to a fragmented sound, and at any time you get the sense of a dump truck of fuzz running you over. I do not think I have heard such a sweet-sounding album since the last Brutus album (‘Behind the Mountains’). Kudos to the band and James Plotkin for pulling this off, it is no small feat.

Another thing worth mentioning, before I delve into the music itself, is the blindingly beautiful cover. We all love something nice to look at and even more so, when a cover art in some way contributes to or underline the musical scheme and references at stake. With ‘Future Primitive’, we have scenery with a giant octopus fighting an interstellar battleship at the bottom of the sea in front of some time and space warp vortex. This acidic and gleaming vision of a deep-sea battle is by far some of the best cover artwork I have seen in a while and there is enough to stare at as to make even Jacques Cousteau cream his pants.

As hinted at earlier, the musical scope outlined by Snowburner ventures not far from the beaten stoner rock track, although some different and new tricks are thrown in here and there for good measure, Future Primitive stick to a well proven formula of super fuzzy groove-laden boogie stoner rock. This might sound like a bad thing; well in this case, it is not. When executed very well, you do not mind experiencing it again – kind of like bear and pretzels.

Track after track dishes out on super tasty stoner rock, and especially prime cuts as ‘Reelin’ in the Wasted Years’, ‘Stabbed on the Throne’ and of course the aforementioned ‘Ride the Tide’ as this leaves your body left to uncontrolled moving and and continuous head-nodding.

Haunt Me No Longer’ comes so damn close to the mighty Fu Manchu it is almost scary. Again scary in the best sense of the word. Listen for yourself and see what I mean. A band that does Fu Manchu interpretations this well, better start writing Mr. Hill’s tracks for him, for all I care.

Ashes in the West’ nods heavily to The Sword circa ‘Age of Winters’ era with a ripping stoner heavy riff and beefy bass-lines and Jop Hoekstra doing his best Ozzy impression. It’s important to stress that Snowburner by no means come off as mere mimickers – glancing at passed time masters can never be a bad thing when the impersonator surpasses the original. Just take for instance a band named after a flower and an acoustic Sabbath song.

Album highlight might be ‘Vultures at Bay’ that with its soaring melodic ending part hits some of the best stoner rock I have heard in a long while. I can’t recommend this Dutch stoner ensemble enough as ‘Future Primitive’ is a little shimmering blue oasis of high caliber stoner rock amidst a drying-out desert scenery. Go have a sip…

Check out the closing track ‘Bailiff’s Blues’ a southern tinged delta blues folk country thing complete with acoustic guitars and harmonica and a feel that makes it sit as easily in on any Muddy Waters album. Funny thing is it fits perfectly with Snowburner’s vision of a modern take on stoner rock as well in a wry lopsided and laid-back way. Now excuse me, where’s my Jack D…

Words by Niels Fuzz Bartholdy