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Pod People : Doom Saloon

With their tongues firmly planted in their collective cheeks, Pod People's motto is "Motor Bike Metal for Mull Pigs". I suppose that's true enough in its way, but to me it sounds more like the most-played selections on the jukebox in the Bar at the Gates of Hell (open 24/7 for your convenience). And if you're going to sound like that, you better have a solid foundation of doom on which to build. The Pod's have that in spades: they sprinkle in enough cross-genre influences to keep things "hot," but they never stray far from what they do best: Doom and More Doom.

Formed in Canberra, Australia in 1991, Pod People began life as a more stoner-oriented outfit, before suffering numerous personnel changes and entering the harsher world of doom/grind on their two late-90s Eps, 'Swingin' Beef' and 'Soil'. With 'Doom Saloon', the group has really put it all together, successfully assimilating their past with an eye towards a doomier future. The leadoff track tells the tale: 'Filling the Void' is great early 'Sabbath-style chugging combined with harsh death groove vocals recalling Entombed's 'Uprising'. The cold, spacey guitar solo ain't too shabby either. 'Roadblock' shows that Pod People can do the clean vocals thing just fine, thank you, but they throw in some black metal screams just to show us what's what. 'Hoovin' is great stoner groove with clean vocals overlaid with harsh harmonies, while 'Subterranean' brings us back to The Doom: slow, sludgey, bloody, and still screaming on its tarnished silver platter. A personal favorite is 'King Tide'. With its stoner vibe and haunting, harsh vocals run through heavy reverb, its just so damned cool. I have the distinct feeling the Pod's crush live; it's a sad fact that most of us outside Australia will never get to experience it.

It's not often that I call out the artwork on a CD insert, but this one begs a mention. It's a gorgeous rendering, by Alchemist's guitarist Roy Torkington, of the Inferno from Dante's Divine Comedy, printed with multiple foldouts in the form of an inverted cross. Hell, this is so striking that it recalls the glory days of diecut LP jackets. Can there be any greater praise? In a recent interview, guitarist Josh Nixon hinted that Purgatory and Paradise may be the themes for future Pod' releases; I can't wait to see what Torkington does with those.

Make no mistake: Pod People have done something musically important here, albeit with a wink and a stoned, drunken leer. They've managed to meld a disparate number of underground metal influences together to form something unique in the world of doom. Enthusiasts of everything from 'Sabbath, Bethlehem, Entombed, Isis, Khanate, and Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine to early Cathedral, St. Vitus, Winter, Evoken, and Candlemass will be able to pick up on the love that Pod People are dishing out. This is Australia's doom album of the year for 2002.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Filling the Void
2. The Missed
3. Roadblock
4. Hoovin'
5. Subterranean
6. Look Beneath
7. Ascend to Glamstonia
8. Testing the Waters
9. King Tide
10. Non-Prophet

Duration : Approx. 50 minutes.

Visit the Pod People bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
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