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Wounded Giant : Live Weird Doom

Somewhat anaemic sound quality makes this really one for the Wounded Giant faithful.

I've mentioned Contaminated Tones before, and their staunch support for the old-school-as-it-gets underground scene: this is another of their 'official live bootleg' tape-only releases from the more obscure end of the Doom canon - this time with Seattle's Wounded Giant in action at what sounds like a fairly intimate indoor gathering.

The 'Weird' in the title shouldn't be taken too literally - it's a reference to Wounded Giant's fondness for the heavy Psychedelic sounds of the '60s and '70s, something that hasn't really had a genuine claim to being startingly unusual since Hapshash And The Coloured Coat were last in the studio. That's not intended as a criticism, just an observation that what's being presented is quite comfortably familiar Lovecraftian retro/occult Stoner Doom, rather than some challengingly left-field oddity, and that anyone with a grounding in the early days of Heavy Rock is going to be able to come up with a fistful of comparisons that'll likely start at Blue Cheer and work outwards.

As is most often the case with Trad-based genres, that's not the important part, anyway: what matters isn't the originality of the material so much as the enthusiasm and brain-melting heaviness of its delivery. That was available aplenty on the 'original' studio release, 'Lightning Medicine' - from which 4/5 of this live set was taken: plentiful riffing fed through various effects pedals, huge rumbles of chunky bass, drums that would far rather be riding the toms and kick than battering tinny cymbals, and raw, rasping vocals, all present and correct. And as purveyors of the Psych/Doom sound, Wounded Giant do a pretty good job of bringing their own slant to the genre: though there are lots of influences that can be pointed to, there's no single 'sounds just like...' to be invoked.

Unfortunately, not all of that has translated well to this particular offering, which does suffer from a somewhat anaemic sound. It was apparently taken from a rammed-full venue at Maryland Deathfest, but the audience mostly seem to contribute by talking between, and sometimes over, the tracks: it rather conveys the impression this was recorded on a Walkman in the barman's hip pocket. Consequently, the subtler uses of effects and distortion are missing, as is a proportion of the powerful low-end bass vibe, and winding up enough volume to get the full immersive experience also includes tape hiss of Type I normal with early Dolby-B (remember when that was state-of-the-art?) proportions.

That's not an absolute album-killer: for example, the faster and more frantic parts like 'Sinistra', with its Nektar-esque jamming feel, or the Sabbath 'Wheels Of Tomorrow'-like riff of 'Lightning Medicine' still get their points across well enough. I would guess, though, that this really isn't aimed at introducing people to the band so much as capturing the feel of the whole 'small club' experience for the already-faithful. Fair enough: hell, I paid a lot more for even lower quality bootlegs back in the '80s, just because I was at that particular gig, or for unsigned bands where there was never going to be a record deal coming (the latter's obviously less of a driver these days, with self-releases so easily attainable).

The bottom line is that the paste montage of the paper inlay, by CT's Orion, gives a perfect impression of what to expect: there's no attempt to oversell the content as anything other than the sort of genuine, lo-fi live fan footage which helps keeps YouTube in business. For me, it's a bit too much of a shame that it loses some of the variety and edge Wounded Giant brings to the studio: still, if you can't get enough of live performances and prefer authenticity over audiophile perfection, it's worth taking a listen. And if you remember the days of analogue-only music and tape-trading stalls, you may even end up feeling right at home!

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Reviewer's rating: 6/10


Tracklist :
1. King Rawhead
2. Rats In The Walls
3. Sinistra
4. The Room Of The Torch
5. Lightning Medicine

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Wounded Giant bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-11-02 by Mike Liassides
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