To be Kim Pleet Lee honest, we may have bitten off more than we can chew. Of our many crusades, one of the biggest small man, chickenhawk complexes we’re constantly grappling with is this burden of trying to redeem USBM from the flat, derivative reputation it’s somehow gained. This Californian band is often associated with Lightning Swords of Death, though to the knowledge of our vast and impeccably trained research team they don’t seem to share any former members. In any case, we may be as bold as to say they are much better. Hint: we may. Take a listen to a few tracks from their latest record Raven God Amongst Us.
There is a haunting, memorable quality to a lot of this stuff and the production strikes a nice balance between fuzzy obscurity and instrument clarity. This is one of those tracks that really reminds us of how far reaching the influences of Sabbath and Zeppelin are. The bombast of the symbols, with their semi-bluesy rhythm could easily flow over a heavy pentatonic riff and still make sense. In fact, it’s the dynamic drumming that gives this band some identity. Essentialy, it’s just nice to hear something other than a tired and predictable trade-off between blast beats and 16-beat marching rhythms. Even smells of Melechesh at times, which always a good thing.
The guitars are heavily produced and allow them to build a little bit with the song structures. At the same time the whole song is cohesive enough to were this kind of analysis is rarely warranted.
Once again the Melechesh comparison rears its head. Though there is no outright rip-off of the Middle Eastern band’s unique sound, songs like “Med Fjell I Horisonten ” do tug at the Melechesh riffs that have been seared into the back of my brain. The druid-like vocal treatment gives this track a sound all its own and it would be neat-o to see these guys explore this direction further on their next outing. Until then Raven God Amongst Us isn’t a bad dose of methadone in its own right.