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SIGIRIYA (Return To Earth) LP/CD

In late 2011 a sigh of relief escaped all those who had mourned the departure of Welsh stoner-doomsters Acrimony more than ten years ago, because 4/5 of the british shroomheads finally started a new band together and released their first album via the German label Church Within Records, known to host some of today’s finer outfits in the stoner/doom genre. Under the new moniker SIGIRIYA (named after a holy mountain in Sri Lanka) the four guys knocked seven songs together which are overall much shorter and focused than I expected (except for the album’s closing track which clocks in at ten-and-a-half minutes). They waste no time, they get right to the point. We get a brief bass intro before the bands stomps into the pounding groove of the opener 'Mountain Goat'. The sound is heavy and thick, but also very open, every instrument is distinguishable, great job done by Billy Anderson.

The drums are not too far in the background but right in the middle and rather responsible for the heavy sound of the whole band. It seems the guitars rely more on a distorted crunch than on a larger-than-life fuzz which only helps the warm mid-range growl of the bass guitar to come through, which is a nice effect in today’s stoner scene, where enough bands exist whose guitar and bass players only seem to try to drown each other soundwise. The characteristic and nice rasp of Dorian Walters’ voice fits right into the gritty backing of his bandmates and he creates some catchy lines, especially in 'Whiskey Song' and 'Dark Fires'. While guitar and bass working nicely together to build a wall of riffs, guitarist Stuart O’Hara doesn’t tear a hole into this by soloing away senselessly but manages to also lock in his tasty wah-driven solos really well with the grooving bass supplied by Paul ‘Mead’ Bidmead. Drummer Darren Ivey never lets go of the groove and keeps things heavy and eveno incorporates some well-placed double-bass parts.

All in all, the band sounds as tight and well-synced like the true veterans of this kind of music that they are. The songs are all highly addictive mid-tempo stompers which really stick to your head, with catchy riffs and great melodies presented with a slap-in-your-face-like attitude as in the up-beat track 'Tobacco Sunrise' or the whirling 'Hurricane'. It seems SIGIRIYA have completely abandoned psychedelic interludes or minute-long jam parts, except for the epic 'Deathtrip To Eryri', which is the perfect closer for this album. The CD version comes in a sturdy, high-gloss digi-pack which looks really nice. Despite being rather short for an album there is not one note wasted or superfluous here. It’s a great album and I have to admit, I never thought of Acrimony while listening to it, SIGIRIYA really pulled it off to make this band stand out on their own.

P.S.: The missing kid of the old Acrimony crew plays in the sludge-metal outfit LIFER. Check ‘em out if you like your metal sludgy and bluesy!

(Steve Albino)