Slovenian trio Voodoo Mule is heavier and filthier than most stoner rock bands. The fuzz flows thick and viscous, just the way you like it, downtuned all the way to hell which must be where their swaggering groove riffs originate. They play slow enough at times to be classified as stoner doom, but for now we’ll just call it thick bottomed rock n roll as a foundation.
These boys play around with their riffs like a hungry cat plays with a mouse, improvising mid-stride and batting the thing around with pick-handling paws. 1000ccs rumble from the exhaust pipe of a Kyuss-made green machine with black (sabbath) trim. One song flows into the next the way mercury travels through the brain, devouring all in its path. For this reason, the album never stops to take a breath. “It was recorded in one day,” says band member Fabijan Purg “except for the vocals which were recorded separately in about an hour”. Such a hectic recording schedule may provide some insight as to why this album just keeps going. But it’s not one of those albums where it just sounds like one song over an over again for 40 minutes. There’s enough variation between the songs to distinguish them quite easily from each other, a simple thing really, but not something that is always handled successfully, it’s all the more important to do so when it comes to an album whose songs are linked.
For the most part, ‘Voodoo Zoo’ stays within the blazing confines of stoner rock, but those dread notes of doom seep into the party on opening track “Honeyland”, whose slow, thick pace and sugary goodness matches the song title adroitly and “Church Snake”, eventually canvassing the remainder of the album in their deadly fumes. Eventually the entire affair gives way to feedback and this is the point at which you know everyone has dropped dead. After a short, restless sleep, we are treated to an early demo, which, sounds like it might have been recorded just outside the door of the practice space. “It was recorded at a rehearsal at one time just jamming,” reveals Jernej (guit/voc). “[The] Device used was a pocket sound recorder and then some studio magic made it sound like it was recorded next doors.” What the muddy recording lacks in punch it makes up for in feel and crazy guitar solos and again they jump right from one song into the next. If nothing else it shows the band’s head down, one song to the next ethos that permeates the album, in this instance in a more naturalistic setting and gives a clue to what the live Voodoo Mule experience must be like: a ceaseless tidal wave of noise.
So that’s what the live experience is like for the audience, but what is it like for the band itself? Slovenia isn’t too well known for its rabid fan base of stoner doom fans. Is something happening there beneath all of our noses that we are not aware of? A scene threatening to envelop all in its path? Are Voodoo Mule nothing but “hipster opportunists” latching on to a larger scene because it is popular? The band scoffs at the notion, “Most of the guys that listen to this kinda music play in stoner bands as well so...5 bands, 4 members average. Yes! a scene of about 20 and our girlfriends, which are obligated to come to the shows.” Playing only for other bands is a familiar frustration the world over, but what these Mules are doing is no less exciting for the band’s current lack of a large homegrown following. They are doing it for all the right reasons.
It begs another question, with such a little movement towards stoner rock at home, how did the guys in the band even discover this kind of music? “I was about 14,” Jernej says, “watching to viva zwei, 2ROCK(it was on every day at 8pm) and I heard Feel good hit of the summer by Queens of the stone age...and so it began. ” Nearly exactly the same way stoner rock as I understood it was introduced to me around the same time on the opposite side of the world only, the song was “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret”.
This is genuine music, by a bunch of dudes in their twenties with typical problems and typical delights, who aren’t in it for the fame or notoriety, they just wanted to rock out in the best style imaginable. But now that you’ve gotten to know Voodoo Mule but perhaps still aren’t convinced to try them out, don’t do it for any of the reasons listed above, do it because the seven songs and 40 minutes of ‘Voodoo Zoo’ will make you nod your head, tap your feet and maybe headbang a little or even smile the smile of satisfaction. Do it because it is slow, heavy, loud and it is excellent, maybe even surprisingly so.
One final note: apologies for the confusion about the identity of our mysterious “inside source” Fabijan Purg. Officially, the band is made up of three pieces, Jagnje (guitar, vocals), Iguana (bass) and Hippo (drums). Well, when a zoo animal start talking to you from behind the bars of the cage, little things like real identity slip past your mind, and you are compelled to shut up and listen.
words by Lucas Klaukien
words by Lucas Klaukien
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