Thursday 9 June 2016

GOZU - Revival (Album Review)

Release date: June 10th 2016. Label: Ripple Music. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Revival – Tracklisting

Nature Boy
Bubble Time
Big Casino
Lorenzo Llamas
By Mennen
Dee Dee McCall
Tin Chicken

Band Members:

Marc Gaffney- vox/guitar
Mike Hubbard-drums
Doug Sherman- guitar
Joe Grotto- Bass
Jeff Fultz-guitar (sometimes)


Anyone familiar with the Boston-based quartet Gozu already knows their ability to fuse the groove of stoner/blues rock with rhythmic lines straight from the golden era of Seattle’s grunge, without ignoring more classic (heavy) metal passages. Since 2009, with the release of their seven track EP, Gozu lie between heaviness and lightness, supported by catchy melodies deeply rooted in raunchy, bluesy swagger and ballsy metal singing of vocalist Marc ‘Gaff’ Gaffney. All in Gozu works perfectly in a sort of strange alchemy. Their following albums, Locust Season (a must have!) and The Fury Of A Patient Man (both under the wings of Small Stone Records), have consolidated their riff-oriented stoner rock that hits the mark with a ‘shot in the face’ that leaves no way to the listener.

But, what about their new album? When Steve asked me to review Revival, I had no idea what to expect from their latest work. I was afraid of being faced yet another well played and well produced album, but with something too much similar to previous releases. At a first and fast listening Revival might sound exactly as expected, but a more careful listening hides something different that makes it unique compared to their past productions.

In Revival, Gozu expand their personal dichotomy of heaviness and melody, throwing up tons of riffs with a rhythm section that leaves no way, perhaps due to the change of line-up with the arrival of bassist Joe Grotto (Motherboar) and Warhorse former drummer Mike Hubbard.

In this work, the roots of stoner rock fuses with the darkest part of Seattle’s grunge scene. Black Sabbath meet Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, which in turn meet Kyuss, QOTSA, Mastodon and 16 so personally as not to be never boring. The opener Nature Boy is marked by a wall of riffs and rhythm section that remind me the QOTSA of Songs for the Deaf. Not by chance is the first official single.

Bubble Time marks a change of time, slowing and expanding the times in a continuous swing between stoner and heavy rock, coming very close in the first half of the song to the Alice in Chains of Dirt.
Big Casino, Gozu are at ease with more dilated sounds, with a psychedelic vein that reminds me the Kyuss of Freedom Run. Such a feeling goes on in the next song, Lorenzo Llamas (!), the second longest piece of Revival, with more than 7 minutes starting with heavy psych sounds and ending with a space solo sustained by a groovy rhythm section.

In the middle of Revival, we find Oldie, which sounds like a classic heavy metal song but with a surprising solution at the end. By Mennen, the bass line, is heavy as a boulder, introduces an awesome bluesy/stoner song, masterfully supported by a vocalization that reaches a peak at the end, when the voice of Marc juggles perfectly in the absence of any instrument. Sublime.
Revival ends with the short Dee Dee McCall, a powerful song halfway between Mastodon and QOTSA and the heavy/psychedelic Tin Chicken, full of everything Gozu are able to offer to the listener. An eight minute trip that does not disappoint the expectations of those who, like me, love long compositions which are at the true meaning of progressive-space-rock.

Finally, a note on the artwork that, in my opinion, is always the calling card of a band. Simply amazing. Essential but effective. I definitively love it.

Do yourself a favor. Listen to Gozu discography, from the beginning to the end, and you will realize the huge potential of the band. Congrats to Ripple Music for betting on this bigwig!

Words by Bruno Bellisario

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life for the promo. Revival will be available to buy via Ripple Music on CD/DD/Vinyl from June 10th 2016.