Yet another band rejecting the increasingly dubious manufactured rock kiddie culture zeitgeist to embrace a purer sound of days gone by, Gonzalez join the ever-growing legions of garage rockists and drug aficionados that are multiplying like rabbits all over the popular mindscape. Gonzalez, both the band and the record, is pretty goddamn psyche-fried and dusty, providing a convincing aural equivalent of the cover image of a biker, on a chopper, in the desert, with shades on. Whaddya mean that it’s not a T-shirt yet?
Gonzalez worshipfully follow the same path as the more tripped-out of the new school of “stoner bands” — there’s bits of Kyuss, Nebula, Fu Manchu, and more than a dollop of Sabbathy paranoia — which should add up to a pretty decent musical brew. Ten ton bass, dinostomp drumming, and a fuzzy mess of guitar, with anguished yet tuneful vocals, conjuring forth all manner of last-exit lyrics. I’ll say this, the lead guitar smokes, but I’m left almost underwhelmed by the final product. There’s something missing here. Where’s the danger? Where’s the ugliness? Where’s the hate?
Too compressed-sounding and clean for my tastes, Gonzalez is neither visceral nor sprawling nor misanthropic to make any lasting mark in the doom genre. Melvins, Khanate, Warhorse, Down, Spirit Caravan, Cruevo, Brainoil, Electric Wizard, Grief — that’s some good evil doom. This just lacks that sticky, menacing, bloody-mouthed thrill. At some point, when everyone and their dog (though I would be interested in an all-dog power trio) are mining the same reference points of The Stooges and Black Sabbath, the original source material and intent becomes dangerously diluted and maybe even a leeeeeeeettle bit boring. Just an observation.