Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sergeant Thunderhoof - Terra Solus (2018)

Kaleidoscopic Mushrooms from Outer Space

I stumbled upon Sergeant Thunderhoof a few months back while surfing through my YouTube feed. It was a music video of the band performing the first track off their debut full-length Ride of the Hoof. It sounded so effortlessly catchy and dynamic that I instantly
listened to the album as well as their first EP Zigurat. Technically the EP can be considered as a full-length since it clocks around 40 minutes or so. Anyway, both the releases not only met my initial expectations of finding a solid chunk of stoner metal but surpassed it as Sergeant Thunderhoof's unparalleled synthesis of Sabbathian grooves, transcendental psychedelia, and unpredictable hooky flair make them more than just a stoner rock band.

Enter Terra Solus, the sophomore full-length release by these psychedelic heavy rockers from Somerset, UK. It’s every bit of a consistent opus as their previous outputs and perhaps more sophisticated, diverse and expansive. Right off the bat the gigantic bottom-heavy Sabbathian lurch of “Another Plane” begins this loud, epic and trippy extraterrestrial journey. The pace and dynamic remain in the heavy territory with the thunderous riff-o-rama of “Stellar Gate Drive”. Even though this album is more of a cohesive, consistent piece of work with practically no filler, “The Tree and the Serpent” is still a definite highlight of the record for me. It’s a six-minute psychedelic spiritual trip surrounded with a hauntingly infectious verse-chorus structure carried remarkably by airy, bluesy reverberating rhythm section and Dan Flitcroft’s charismatic soulful vocals which peaks with Mark Sayer’s orgasmics leads. “Priestess of Misery” is another absolute favorite of mine. It’s a stupendous moody doom metal piece which shifts back and forth between sludgy grooves, haunting monolithic chorus and intense leads.

As I’ve stated earlier that Sergeant Thunderhoof is not easily categorizable, sure general genre adherents can associate them with the stoner/doom spectrum and I think the band is totally fine with that. But their emphasis on catchy grooves, huge chorus, psychedelic meanderings and overall memorable songwriting is as much aesthetically akin to Deep Purple, ZZ Top, Soundgarden as it is to Black Sabbath, Cathedral and Kyuss as well as Pink Floyd to some extent. A prime example of this is “Diesel Breath” which comes across as a groove-laden heavy rocker at first until the grinding metallic crawl of the bridge and the soul-searching Floydian culmination of the outro. 

“Half a Man” is a really different sort of piece altogether which evokes a ballad-like feel upon
first listen but It’s not really a ballad. It’s simply an introspective, heartfelt, quiet vocal-driven atmospheric tune. The dreamy, pensive psychedelia of “Om Shaantih” brings closure to the contrasting, kaleidoscopic trip that is Terra Solus. Call it metal, heavy rock, stoner, doom or whatever, Sergeant Thunderhoof is definitely one of the most original sounding entities out there right now and I hope that they will continue to impress us with their mercurial brand of heavy rock for years to come.

Terra Solus is scheduled to be released on May 12th. Pre-order is up on Bandcamp for limited edition vinyl, limited edition cassette, compact disc and digital download. You can stream the first track "Another Plane" via the Bandcamp attachment below.

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