All Souls ‘All Souls’ Review: Los Angeles act offers an inventive mix of stoner, garage and psychedelia.
The group features notable stoner rock luminaries, including vocalist/guitarist Tony Aguilar and bassist Meg Castellanos (both of Totimoshi), drummer Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson, The Desert Sessions) and guitarist Erik Trammel (Black Elk), all of whom first discussed working together way back in 1994. Good things come to those to wait, as they say, as this album (produced by Melvins collaborator Toshi Kasai) proves no exception.
The group whip up an unholy din on opener Party Night, an earworm blending Queens of the Stone Age-esque stomp and 60’s garage rock, replete with hand-clap chorus and a frenzied grinding riff.
Follow-up Never Know keeps the festivities at a fever pitch, with an infectious droning guitar line in lockstep with Aguilar’s keening howl, followed by Money Man’s insistent pulsing riff and pounding rhythm section.
Aguilar’s reedy vocals are one of the most distinctive aspects about the band, setting them apart from other desert rockers with a delivery and aesthetic more associated with alternative or post-punk. It makes for a bewitching fusion.
Silence is a case-in-point, featuring a 90’s grunge vibe, full of sandpaper guitar and pummeling beats, over which Aguilar veers from whispered croon to defiant wail.
The group’s musicianship is tight yet playful, used to dynamic effect on the moody Rename The Room, featuring dynamic shifting rhythms from Tornay, Castellanos’ haunting bass line and Aguilar and Trammel’s interweaving guitar textures. While it’s the most low-key moment on the album, it’s sullen intensity makes it a standout.
Tool’s Danny Carey lends his inimitable percussion skills to Sadist/Servant (which we should add is his second recent contribution to a self-titled supergroup début album, the other being Legend of the Seagullmen), a hypnotic track stacked to the rafters with psychedelic atmospherics.
Things end with the one-two punch of Reveille (which oddly enough recalls Tool, even though Carey isn’t featured) and Time Bomb, a bombastic number that lives up the title.
All Souls’ debut offers a whole new twist on the desert/stoner/doom metal formula, defying expectations while still pleasing the eardrums. That’s what makes it so appealing, and makes me eager to see them in a live setting.
Own it on Amazon.