Curiosity is a double-edged sword. Rather than sticking too religiously to familiar acts and genres, occasionally I like to stick a pin in the review queue and go âbring it on!â, but regular readers may have noticed that Iâve made a couple of disappointing choices recently. Then I received a demo in my personal inbox from a friend at a PR company, saying she knew I dug stoner rock and wanted to know what I thought of her companyâs new additions Satellite Beaver. Unless youâre au fait with the Polish extreme music scene, you probably know about as much as I do about these chaps: absolutely zilch. According to their bio, Satellite Beaver formed in Warsaw in 2008, inspired by grunge and stoner and peddling a very admirable âtune it lowerâ attitude. The Last Bow is intended to be a closing of chapters, I assume a clearing of the slate before the band release new album material, and it gives listeners a hint as to what to expect in the future. So, what can we expect, ladies and germs?
Well, without spoiling the surprise too early, the short answer is very good things. Satellite Beaver deliver that kind of Kyuss-y, Karma To Burn-influenced stoner RAWK (again, pronunciation is important) that puts you in mind of high-speed drives under a desert night sky â heavy enough to piss your neighbours off at high volume, but groovy enough to chuck on when the sun is out and you want something with a bit of tune.
A word of warning: donât start listening to this EP on full volume! Begin on moderate, as the initial shriek of feedback at the start of opening track âPershingâ will blow your head off. But crank it up immediately afterwards, because it doesnât half kick off â a hugely headbangable riff heralds a bouncy verse with distorted, rasping vocals by frontman Simon, who sounds a wee bit here like latter-day Marilyn Manson until his tuneful bellow introduces the chorus. The guitar soloing is accomplished but not overdone and the bottom end sounds absolutely huge â itâs not a perfectly-produced recording by any stretch, but thereâs a wonderfully boomy sound to it that gives it a real wallop. Like a track from Kyussâ Welcome to Sky Valley sung by Layne Staley, the wonderfully heavy âUraniaâ explodes in similar style, the military snares of the short verses keeping you hanging before pushing you over into an almighty chorus of droning, multi-tracked vocals and a salvo of crashing cymbals.
Third track âWay Beforeâ, while by no means a bad track, is possibly the one weak song in the selection â it has a very Clutch-y vibe, all up-tempo verses and another big headbanger of a chorus, but it doesnât quite stand up to the mesmerising one-two of the tracks before. Final track âRoadtripâ, the longest on the EP at just under 5 and a half minutes, is a testament to saving the best for last. It begins as a wonderfully languid groove of a verse, those grungy vocals crooning over the easy riff before a gorgeous chorus blooms from nowhere and right into your skull. Yâknow how Iâve explained in reviews how music can surround your head like a sound balaclava? This is exactly what happens here, cymbals reverberating around your skull and the low ends of guitars and bass thrumming through you with that rumbling, almost humming tone so idiosyncratic to stoner and doom. Roughly halfway through the song things drop out almost altogether into a mellowed-out jam between psychedelic guitars and a bass thatâs tuned so low the strings audibly flap against the instrument, before a leviathan bellow booms through the fug to bring you back to earth. Itâs a beautiful conclusion to the EP, busy with droning and bellowing vocals, crashing percussion and roaring guitars, but so simple in its approach. If this is indeed the road the band are going down, the coming full-length will be well worth the wait!
The Last Bow isnât even 20 minutes long but it offers a pleasing taste of Satellite Beaverâs career thus far, plus a tantalising look into their future. Fans of the slow and heavy who desire a little something to nod their heads to could do a lot worse than to pick up a copy â I for one will be introducing my Drowning Pool-loving neighbours to it when the summer comes and the windows stay open!