Album review: Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares

Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares - various artists (Numero)

Detail from the cover art for Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares.

Detail from the cover art for Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares.

WARFARING STRANGERS: The Darkscorch Canticles, released in 2013, was a treasure trove of underground Black Sabbath-influenced US metal from the early 1970s by an array of short lived, yet fascinating, bands.

Whereas that album was full of sword'n'sorcery, dungeons'n'dragons, lyrics, this follow-up collection, Acid Nightmares has feet firmly planted (or should that be floating? ) on the lysergic end of the spectrum. With song titles like 'Hypodermic Needle', 'Hooked' 'Speed Freak', 'Acid', and 'Drugs', you know what to expect lyrically. Musically though, while the Sabs influence is clearly detectable, the 18 US bands collected here display a much wider range of influences than their Darkscorch Canticles companions.

These bands largely explore the proto-psychedelia of The Yardbirds and British Mod-rock bands, melding it with the various out-there sounds of the West Coast hippie scene, and re-imagine it all as something darker, more sinister - eg, Whistler's Mother's 'Dark Dawn', Sunn Cycle's 'Acid Raga' taking up where the freak-out section of The Door's 'The End' left off.

Proto-Goth moments which pop up between the acid blues riffing; Gollum's 'Prayer of Despair' and The Ritual's 'Speed Freak' both deliberately quote from Deep Purple's 'Speed King' and Cream's 'White Room' respectively; and as for the mighty guitar riff on Goliath's 'Dead Drunk Screamin''? Well, they don't write them like that anymore - more's the pity.

While nothing here dislodges Sabbath or Cream from their hallowed pedestals of heaviness, Acid Nightmares is both enormous fun and essential listening for fans of early metal, heavy rock, acid rock, stoner rock, and heavy blues.

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