Shrinebuilder: a supergroup that doesn’t suck

Well, concert reviews are no longer something I’m doing for the Washington City Paper (just concert photos), and that actually works out nicely because it means I can write about concerts that inspire me right here at this blog, like I used to. The latest in a long list of enjoyable concerts I’ve seen in 2009 was Shrinebuilder last Friday night at Sonar in Baltimore.

I dig the Shrinebuilder record, although predictably I like the parts that sound like Om and Neurosis the best. Lots of folks have been saying that it’s exactly the sum of its parts, and I basically agree. That said, the song “Pyramid of the Moon” is absolutely incredible and in its case at least, I enjoy the parts so much that the sum of them is pretty immense. It goes from sounding like Neurosis into an intense Om-like mantra part into Wino’s juicy psychedelic lead guitar back to sounding like Om but more fleshed out. This is a recipe for awesomeness. Still, yes, the record as a whole is good, but not quite great. (Say a strong 10 on the Gnosis scale.)

Live is a different story. They were fantastic. They played like a real band, not a cobbled-together supergroup. The best tracks from the album were better live; I particularly liked seeing/hearing Wino and Scott Kelly trade off on vocals. Their vocal styles are so incredibly different, but they fit together perfectly in the live setting (whereas on the record I found Wino’s vocals a tad bit annoying). Their guitar styles are also incredibly different, and seeing them live gave me new perspective to how their guitar lines fit together in the compositions. Getting to see and hear Al Cisneros do his thing in a full-band setting rather than the stripped-down context of Om was a real treat, too. His first “aaaaaaaahhhhh” vocal drone in “Pyramid of the Moon” was as powerful as any moment I’ve seen with Om. And Dale Crover on drums? Sick. Of the four members’ “main” bands, Shrinebuilder sounds the least like Melvins, but Crover definitely puts his personal stamp on the music nonetheless.

Cosmo Lee kind of stole my thunder with his review of the band’s L.A. show, the only show they played before the Baltimore show I saw. Go read it. I agree with him. (Also, here are my photos from the show.)

As an aside, one of the opening bands, U.S. Christmas, is a definite candidate for the most rhythmically boring rock band ever to employ two drummers. Seriously, why?

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3 Responses to “Shrinebuilder: a supergroup that doesn’t suck”

  1. Daniel Jarvis Says:

    Om rocks! I’m just getting into them now with Conference of the Birds. I’m getting ready to explore further - the new one seems like a good place to go. I’ve never heard any of the other bands though. Is this record a good starting point, or should I be grabbing something else?

  2. Brandon Wu Says:

    Any of the Om full-lengths are good but my favorite is Pilgrimage (with Conference of the Birds a close second). Shrinebuilder really sounds nothing like Om except in a few seconds where Al Cisneros takes the lead on vocals, but it’s pretty solid stoner/doom metal through and through.

    I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know much about Melvins, but the recent Nude With Boots is really nice sludgy metal. I also really like Neurosis’ latest, Given to the Rising - dark and heavy as hell (their classic stuff is also worth checking out, Through Silver in Blood etc). Not a huge fan of Wino’s stuff, it’s not really heavy/extreme enough for me. None of these sound ANYTHING like Om, who are pretty unique as far as I know.

  3. Daniel Jarvis Says:

    Thanks, I’ll be checking Pilgrimage out next. I’ll have to check out Neurosis as well. I’ve just started getting into the heavier stuff. I still love my prog but this stuff is very powerful and just kicks my ass.

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