Weedpecker - III review

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Band: Weedpecker
Album: III
Release date: January 2018

01. Molecule
02. Embrace
03. Liquid Sky
04. From Mars To Mercury
05. Lazy Boy And The Temple Of Wonders

From the first few notes of their self-titled album in 2013, Weedpecker announced themselves as instant masters of their particular laid-back, psychedelic-tinged brand of stoner metal, effortlessly drifting between languid, fuzzy, hooky stoner riffs and jam-like psychedelic instrumental meandering to create a real relaxing, mind-opening vibe. 2015's II strayed ever so slightly away from the sound of the debut, with a greater prominence for the progressive side of the band, more extended soft instrumental jams, and perhaps a more airy atmosphere, but retained the slow pace, fuzzy riffs and eerie, echoey vocals, and maintained a level of songwriting remarkably high for a band so early in their career. Now, as the time came to produce the 'difficult third album', the question was whether Weedpecker would stick to the formula that has worked so well for them so far or decide to mix up things up. The answer is surprisingly skewed towards the latter option.

III lulls the listener into a false sense of security with opener "Molecule", which, after a few minutes of light instrumentation, drifts into the slow, fuzzy riffing one might expect from the band's past works. However, there are hints on display here, such as the restrained use of background keyboards and the softer vocal approach, of the departures to come later in the album. As one gets further into the album, one wonders if the band this time didn't leave the weed and Sleep albums at home, and instead bring the acid and '60s/'70s prog/psychedelic rock albums into the studio this time. Unlike on past albums, where the thick, heavy riff was king, the guitar tone is much lighter this time, the vocals are lighter and dreamier, and keyboards have become a genuine fixture in the band's sound. Furthermore, whilst the band has employed faster speeds before, the predominant tempo range on past albums could probably be described as 'unrushed', whilst the songs on here are far more driven, with the instrumental prowess rising to match it. And whilst these influences were by no means absent in the past, the band has never seemed so indebted to the '60s and '70s as during the heavily Pink Floyd-inspired closing minutes of "Embrace". Overall, while the band is still clearly recognisable as "Weedpecker", the group has clearly shown an unwillingness to rest on their laurels and have instead pushed their sound into new territory.

However, if one worries whether this shift in sound is accompanied by a change in musical quality, there is no cause for alarm. Weedpecker are masters at song structures and transitions, seamlessly shifting between hooky, racing riffs to softer instrumental jams, and always know how long to ride a particular groove before mixing it up. In addition, the distinctive 'warbling' lead guitar style (for lack of a better word) present on past albums is once again on full display here and consistently weaved in and out of songs to great effect. And the songs themselves are, while hitting a lengthy average run time, all worth the time commitment to enjoy the journeys they take you on. I wouldn't necessarily say any match "Sativa Landscapes" for their finest work, but "From Mars To Mercury" is a sublime venture, a 10-plus-minute effort that displays some of their proggiest writing to date as it segues from an instantly hooking lead guitar intro riff to fast driving riffs, an extensive soothing groovy jam, and finally a brief return to the stoner heaviness of the debut album. "Lazy Boy And The Temple Of Wonders", in contrast, is the clearest display of the psychedelic side of their sound, fluidly drifting through different soundscapes on a deceptively structure extended jam of a song.

Since my introduction to them, Weedpecker to me have been the epitome of 'peaceful' metal, something to put on when I want to empty my mind and enjoy the tranquillity of the world. On III, the band has shifted the style of their musical venture, but has retained that warm, calming vibe and unfailingly high level of consistency in their writing and playing. January had barely arrived when this one dropped, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it towards the very top of my end-of-year lists when 2018 has finished telling its story.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8

Written by musclassia | 24.02.2018


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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