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Sadhus (The Smoking Community) : Sadhus The Smoking Community

Short and to the point, but with a definitely appealing character: the debut from Sadhus (The Smoking Community).

A word of warning: approach this with a little caution. It presents a certain...image, starting with a feeling of not-quite-togetherness the band seem to have over their name: confusingly, pretty much every imaginable variation of capitals and brackets, with or without the 'g' in 'Smoking', can be found on their web pages. You might be fooled into thinking that such things add up - like having a fifth member whose job is 'rolling engineer', claiming to be channeling the inhaled music of a mushroom-inspired hairball from a green comet that crashed on Earth in 1980, and having an album cover of a collection of tranquil green fuzzy-animal-headed folk - to some sort of unworldly pothead pixie Stoner collective, trippin' the light fantastic through mellow spaced-out vibes. In which case you'll be getting the same sort of surprise as when you realise granny's herbal arthritis-easer is actually super-strength PCP-laced skunk by the way she's just head-butted you into painful unconsciousness.

No, this Athenian band may well have a considerable fondness for recreational dope (...I surely don't have to explain what the sounds of bubbling inhalation at the start of 'Burned By Hand' are all about...), but they're strictly from the school of not letting it bliss them out into tree-hugging hippydom. Far from it. With one brief exception, Sadhus (The Smoking Community) are into laying down aggressive, in-your-face Sludge'n'Roll with a big helping of splenetic, tormented Crust/Punk vocals, something like Iron Monkey meeting Hangman's Chair, with much of the latter's same nihilistic sense of self-harming fucked-upness to the lyrics.

The band slogan "Roll fast...Play slow...!!!" isn't entirely true - at least, as far as playing particularly slowly goes (I can't really judge the speed of spliff deployment). There are certainly chunks of glacially-paced onslaught, but no obvious reluctance to amp up to mid-tempo, or higher, with some tracks being taken at a furious gallop. One thing is certainly constant, though: it's solidly punchy, filthy, groove-laden stuff spat out with a venomous crushing power. And one other thing: whatever inattention to detail might be implied by the first paragraph - it doesn't carry through to the music. This is tight, sharp and entirely focussed, brutally precise in its timing and delivered with shining clarity through a professional mix and master. You won't be missing a single one of those impassioned, snarling choruses of "Fuck you!"s howling out of the speakers; and, quite possibly, neither will your neighbours - if you play this at the volume it deserves.

So, okay, this isn't likely to be first choice for anybody's 'easy listening' playlist. I did mention an exception earlier: that would be the slow, bluesy introduction to the lengthy 'The Smoking Community', in which, just for a couple of minutes Sadhus show that they could very easily be jamming along doing something a whole lot mellower, and doing it well, if only they wanted to. Of course, being based around Sludge/Doom - the band describe their style as 'IPS' (Intelligent Psycho Sludge) - that blues feel is never far away from the music at any time. Stretched and drawn out over the massive, ponderously crushing riffs of the slower sections, and emphasised with a swaggering vengeance for the speedier parts. Setting aside the harsh vocals, in fact, the raw psychedelic-inspired loudness of those faster sections could have come straight from the Blue Cheer playbook; though, for a nice bit of variety, the brief but frantic 'Colombian Boat Blues' and 'Make Me 20 Euros' derive more from the archetypal punked-out Metal of early Motörhead.

It's no coincidence both those bands were noted as much for having plenty of attitude as for cranking up the volume: 'attitude' pretty much sums up Sadhus' offering, start to finish. There's a real sense of conviction to the barrage of monster riffs and searing leads and a real sense of belief in the grim bluntness of the lyrics. And yet, perhaps most surprisingly, there's nonetheless a certain warmth and welcome to the music - it sounds not only like the band are enjoying it but inviting you to embrace it, share in it, and let it give voice to your own inner demons, rather than simply projecting their sound at you from a distance.

'Sadhus The Smoking Community' perhaps won't really come as a surprise to those already familar with what lies on the dark side of the weed - the likes of Bongzilla, Dopethrone and Electric Wizard for example - but it navigates that territory well, with an insistent charm about it (and as a bonus, it's entirely free of the tiresome use of dull movie samples which so often blight releases of that genre). It is short - by modern-day standards - to be described as an album, but if you have half an hour to kill and feel like channeling your nightmares through some of that raucously boisterous defiance, then why not - go for it!

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Burned By Hand
2. Colombian Boat Blues
3. The Smoking Community
4. Stevaro
5. Make Me 20 Euros
6. Bampoola

Duration : Approx. 33 minutes

Visit the Sadhus (The Smoking Community) bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-03-17 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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