THE LINUS PAULING QUARTET (Bag Of Hammers) CD
Although I have a great love for Texan psychedelic rock, I had not heard of THE LINUS PAULING QUARTET (also abbreviated as LP4) before. This is all the more astonishing as the band has been in existence for almost 20 years. So it is hardly surprising that 'Bag Of Hammers' is their eighth studio album, and it seems that LP4 is driven by a strong creative force. After listening to a couple of tracks from the previous releases, I must say that 'Bag Of Hammers' has very little in common with the early recordings, even if LP4 is still at home in psychedelic territories. In contrast to older albums, 'Bag Of Hammers' is based on a heavy rock fundament with plenty of thick, muscular riffs.
There are still elements which are stamped with 1960's rock accents just like in 'Victory Gin' or in 'Stonebringer', that sounds as if Danish psych rock masters On Trial and Jimi Hendrix have been melted together. The result is superb and inspires me over and over again. That, together with 'Victory Gin' is one of my faves on this album, because the riffs and hooks are so damn catchy without being too obtrusive. On the other hand, 'Crom' is a metal-drenched riff-o-rama as well as 'She Did Not Know', while 'Rust' knows to surprise positively with female lead vocals. Speaking of vocals, one of the strengths of LP4 is singer/guitarist Clinton Heider, whose clear voice brings an enraptured, spaced out vibe into play.
But overall, 'Bag Of Hammers' is an atmospheric full-length, in which one can truly sink into. This is very much down to the three guitars which are enhanced by a lot of crispy fuzz. There is enough room for soulful guitar solos, but also for a few improvisational components. However, this a tightly structured album with a large number of memorable moments, so let us be clear about that. With 'Bag Of Hammers', LP4 delivers a massive slab of psyched-out heaviness that does not spare with depth and emotion. Apart from a few 1960's and 1970's influences, it's a timeless album which clearly shows that LP4 know precisely what they do. Personally, I am glad that I discovered them due to my work for Cosmic Lava simply because 'Bag Of Hammers' is a very strong effort that is wrapped in a gorgeous cover artwork, done by Shelby Hohl.