Across Tundras: Sage

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Across Tundras: Sage
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Across Tundras: Sage
Doom Metal, Progressive Metal, Psychadelic Rock, Stoner Metal
Neurot Records
May 17th, 2011
Release length: 53:14
Myspace
Originally formed in Denver, Colorad, but now located in Nashville, Tennessee, Across Tundras has been issuing new full-length material themselves for many years. This may very well be why many people are unaware of the band’s existence outside of seeing them perform live, happen on some promotional material or a random review, or happening to live nearby to the group. There’s also the option of having learned of the group with their debut full-lengths due to be on some smaller record labels that may have been able to push the band name a little further then the band themselves. Either way, for 2011, the group had signed to Neurot Recordings to issue their seventh full-length recording, Sage, which closely follows their two 2010 full-length albums. Considering how close the releases are, it leads one to become curious whether or not this effort will be worth checking out.

But considering the styles the band incorporates into their material, and the label they happen to be signed to, it’s almost guaranteed that Sage will surely be an album that is at the very least rather interesting musically, and, of course, it proves to be so. Sage lasts roughly fifty three minutes, and this time really focuses more on a Psychadelic Rock presence mixed with Stoner Rock and Metal influences to set up some catchy passages that are both haunting and Progressive while retaining a strong Southern vibe, especially during the slower, more Doom Metal parts of the group’s material. “In the Name of River Grand” introduces all of this nicely with it’s Western film score vibe that transports the listener to a desert regions with sands as far as the eyes can see, the law sitting on a chair outside the sherrif’s office, cowboys riding into town, and townsfolk happening by greeting everyone with no real worries. The laid back presentation of the music works well with the clean singing utilized in a traditional Stoner or Psychadelic Rock group, and the ending of the song concludes with a strong Western build up that attemptss to reach an epic scale through additional instruments to set up a strong finish that feels more like the climax to a Western film after a great tension moreso then the laid back approach. Sadly this does violate the general flow of the song, but it’s transitioned well at least, and still becomes a great opening to the album, as well as sets the overall tone for Sage well.

While “In the Name of River Grand” brings in a really heavy atmosphere and sound, the rest of the material here presents itself as a standard Stoner Rock or Metal formula with some Psychadelic ideas at times, but still retaining a strong Western atmosphere to the music. Some songs are stronger then others as the album goes on. “Buried Arrows” feels more like a genuine Western-influenced track compared to many others, and “The Book of Truth” has some chords, and a passage a little further then half way that seems to use a guitar solo to put together that sensation, but the overall music just has a Southern feel to it, leaving the stronger Western vibe out of most of the song. This becomes a bit of a problem for the recording with the later longer tracks. “Tchulhu Junction” has a Southern vibe going for it, but much of the Western atmosphere and ambience is non-existent. “Mean Season Movin’ On” is a much slower track that manages to have some of that stronger atmosphere to the recording, bringing back the more unique sound of the band that started off Sage.

But, even without that stronger, unique atmosphere to the songs, the band does a good job of keeping the material flowing at a decent pace. The majority of the album are longer tracks, though there are three shorter songs in comparison on the recording. The problem with these tracks is that they lack the kind of depth that the longer songs have, and because of that aren’t quite as enjoyable. But when the longer tracks kick in, like “In the Name of River Grand” and “Mean Season Movin’ On” kick in, the music is well done and offers a good amount of variety to the Stoner/Psychadelic Rock and Metal experiences the band gives off that you can’t help but try to fully embrace the songs for whatever atmosphere the band incorporates into them. However, the closing track “Shunka Sapa” is meerly an instrumental, and while it’s not a bad song, it’s severely lacking whatm akes this album great. There’s no real atmosphere to the track, and the music shows a great deal more Progressive influences then anything else, leaving the constant shifts in speed and sound to feel a little less fluid and more awkward at times, closing out the album on a pretty rough note.

While nothing on this album even comes close to topping the opening track “In the Name of River Grand”, there’s still no denying the album has it’s share of solid tracks that still give off a strong atmosphere that listeners can be wrapped up in. However, some songs sorely lack it, and the closing track simply doesn’t stand up compared to the rest of the material. In the long run, Sage is a good album with a rather unique Western approach to the music, but is greatly hurt by the band not following through with that atmosphere on the tracks past the first song, leaving it to be a memorable song and the rest to be somewhat forgettable outside some depth in the longer tracks, though there are still enough perks to the recording that make it one worth checking out at some point, and fans of the Stoner Metal and Doom Metal styles to come back for a few extra spins.

01. In the Name of River Grand – 8:37
02. Hijo de Desierto – 4:56
03. Buried Arrows – 4:30
04. The Book of Truth – 5:36
05. Tchulu Junction – 8:28
06. Mean Season Movin’ On – 12:06
07. Shunka Sapa – 9:06
Overall Score: 7/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Neurot Recordings.