Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blood Turns to Beer … BOOZE LORDS: ‘Legion of the Tankard’

Since before the beginning of recorded history, mankind has always been beset by vice of one kind or other, be it the magic mushrooms of shamanic ritual or something darker and heavier. A staple of mankind’s long rise and eventual decline and fall has been the ‘demon drink’. Booze has been responsible for such acts as penis-wagging, lamp-shade hat wearing and the conception of about 9-10ths of the world’s population (wiping a tear). Lately, it has also been responsible for the conception of another doomed monster, the Portland, Oregon two-piece band the Booze Lords.

Straddling a line between party thrash and stoner doom, the Booze Lords don’t often attempt to strike a balance, instead putting either style on display as needed. In this way the band embodies the classic dichotomy of the drunkard. So often the life of the party, the drunkard, whose high spirits, disposition and enthusiasm are tempered by the downer urge to brood and mutter angrily to himself when things go wrong, lays waste to all inhibitions and feelings of self-consciousness with a blacked out fury. He is a fascinating creature, one who simply lives, freely and more often than not, loudly and obnoxiously.

When the Booze Lords are in high spirits, they know it’s time to party. Inebrion, the multi-instrumentalist of the duo, hits the strip like an intoxicated bat out of hell, recalling heady, early days of thrash when bands were fuelled by beer, chix and rat mustached testosterone. Those were the days when Metallica was still called Alcoholica by fans before their more flaccid later incarnation, Metal-liquer (okay, nobody calls them that, I just made it up).

Through it all, vocalist Drunkus Crom bears rotted fruit from a distinguished family tree of rasping vocal styles. Wino and Mike Dean, who sprang from the loins of Lemmy, master of us all, who in turn sired Karl Simon and all of them must have had some kind of weird orgy to give birth to the man behind the mic here (what else is there to blame but the booze?). One of the things that initially drew me to The Booze Lords was their song titles, several of which I admit caused me to laugh out loud (or LOL as the youngens say), “Brewicide”, “Count Pabstula” and “Besieged by Poverty” among the most memorable (important note: when spoken aloud “Besieged By Poverty” must be uttered in a gruff low register while holding an invisible globe). Imbibe the revelry of the Booze Lords’ bacchanalia! Stoner doom is not just for stoners anymore, bring on the drunks! The subject matter of each of the 11 songs on this disc is what you might expect … booze and all booze related things, which can actually branch out into some expansive territory including paranoia (“Specter [watching you]”). You cannot fault the band for their focus and purity of vision, however double-sighted it may be.

While party thrash provides a big element of their debut full-length album, the Booze Lords are at their brooding best when muttering angrily to themselves in a darkened and doomed mood. Songs like “Brewicide”, “Booze Lords”, “I.N.I.T.”, “Bow to the Booze”, “The Hand of Drunk” and the aforementioned “Besieged by Poverty”, have a good old school doom metal bouquet to them, maybe standing (and swaying) a little too close to the material that inspired it, Saint Vitus … and booze, but enjoyable nonetheless. These are the songs that quash my inhibitions and turn my blood to beer. Then again, I just may be a surly drunk!

words by Lucas Klaukien

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