Ever since Sir Lord Baltimore delivered the fuzzed tunes of Kingdom Come, metal fans have always enjoyed the slow tempo and distorted riffs that stoner rock offered. While some may argue about the limited sonic landscapes, it’s a genre that has allowed many bands to sprout and find their own unique place. Sleep and Kyuss may have laid the foundations, but bands like High on Fire mixed it with sludge and developed their own sound. Elder too had their roots in stoner rock with Dead Roots Stirring, only to evolve their sound over time into the mix of prog and psychedelia that defines them today. Enter the highly talented Domadora, who I hope go on a similar sonic discovery of their own in the years to come.
2018 has been a great year for the stoner scene already, with the fantastic Earthless release, the engrossing Clone of the Universe by Fu Manchu and the surprise Sleep 4/20 record. Surprisingly with Earthless, a few fans were irked by the fact that the band decided to leave behind their purely instrumental sound as Mitchell took on the vocal duties (and delivered). For them and other stoner heads who want their music to be a purely instrumental jam, Domadora’s latest record Lacuna is a must listen.
Hailing from France, Domadora are a heavy psychedelic act and Lacuna is their third full-length album. Recorded in an isolated farmhouse, the band hoped to experience ‘the colors of improvised music’ and I must say that Lacuna manages to hit the ball out of the park on that. The purely improvised jam style on Lacuna is one of its strongest features, with long drawn out tracks that see each of the four members of the band delivering a truly energetic performance. The opener, “Lacuna Jam”, is a perfect example for the same. The track kicks off with a single distorted riff on Bilwill’s guitar before picking up its pace as every member joins in. The interplay between Bilwill’s intricate riffs and Karim’s drum beats is truly engrossing and reminds one of the famous live improvisations done by Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann of Grateful Dead.
While Lacuna is built around this interplay on guitar and drums, a closer listen showcases Gui Omm’s bass licks perfectly in sync with the drumming that allows their combined effect to really shine. This is especially evident in the last and longest track “Tierra Last Homage”, as the track moves along in the most badass manner possible, with each kick of the bass drum being accompanied with a well rounded low-end note of the bass. To put a cherry on the top, the addition of Angel Paterna on the mouth organ adds a new dimension to Domadora’s sound on Lacuna. While never truly coming to the fore, it forms a unique amalgamation with the guitar solos, resulting in a combo that’s finger lickin’ good!
All this makes Lacuna a enjoyable record. Like most music out there, however, it does have its minor flaws. The mastering by Kent Stump does help the band achieve the ideal stoner sound with the guitars taking the lead while maintaining clear instrument separation, but it is a bit too clean for my taste. The natural intimacy targeted by Domadora is slightly lost in this process. Secondly, the tracks sometimes wander a bit too long. While this is natural for improvised stoner rock jams, it does reduce the impact of the tracks from a studio album perspective. Both “Gengis Khan” and “Tierra Last Homage” (the two longest tracks) have moments around the 10 minute mark that could give the track a natural closure, but are extended for another five minutes. But does this take away the pure psychedelic joy that Domadora strive for? Absolutely not, and, at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Domadora showcase a clear thought process as Lacuna is a rare album that takes the sound of an improvised jam out of a small underground club and into a studio setting. With an energetic performance and truly catchy psychedelic tunes, Lacuna is not only for the fans of stoner rock but also a fantastic place to start for those looking to discover the world of fuzzed out psychedelia.
Notable Tracks: “Lacuna Jam”; “Tierra Last Homage”
FFO: Earthless, Grateful Dead, Sleep