Zak Olsen and his exhaust fumigated band of ’70s crate diggers are back in the arms of ORB once again, and their sophomore album further explores the double stack attack of prime-era Sabbath’s machinations. However, as their first couple of singles attest, the band is trying to push beyond the sound that’s brought them wafting into the arms of stoner-garage freaks everywhere. They embrace fellow ’70s esoteric anomaly Syd Barrett’s effervescent pop, then tumble into a sound that hews a bit too close to labelmates King Gizzard for my taste. It’s hard to dissociate the skittering fretwork and itchy delivery of KG’s brand of psych from their home base and anyone attempting tends to sound a bit watered down.
Perhaps, though, I’m splitting hairs because the band’s bread and butter is clearly so locked into Sabbath’s doom-psych that they can hardly be credited with blazing trails. Yet, when they hit those fuzz squalls right, the album explodes in an enveloping wave of dread and glory that’s taking a cocktail of Blue Cheer, Flower Travelin’ Band and good ol’ Sab straight to the vein. This one is for the late night headphone creepers, the Sunday morning window rattlers, the dirtbags blasting venom at the red light downtown. Naturality lets the band stretch out and explore their sound, reveling in the 6+ minute tracks that showcase the band’s ability to build on a groove and blow it out into a plume of death’s head smoke.
I’ve got a soft spot for ’em, what can I say? Fuzz has been attempting something along these lines and plenty of the orbiters of Planet Segall find themselves in similar waters, but no one is emulating the original quite as nicely as ORB have managed. If you’re a purist, go to the source and hear Ozzy rant about the impending doom of the Vietnam era. If you’re just looking to strap on the same heavy metal thunder with the dry taste of nostalgia on the tongue, you could do far worse than to let ORB rattle the racks for a rotation or two.
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