December 5, 2010 by Dan Swinhoe
‘Supergroups’ are everywhere these days; anyone who may have been in a band before that forms a new one seems to now require the tag.
And this would be fine if they were any good, but calling a band a supergroup seems to act as an albatross around the neck and leads to bad albums, poor live shows and ego clashes. And often seem to be the dying place of musicians way best their best. Velvet Revolver and Audioslave jump to mind.
Yet Shrinebuilder may be one of the few exceptions. Made up of Doom legend Wino (Spirit Caravan, Hidden Hand, every major doom band ever), Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Dale Crover of The Melvins and Al Cisneros from Nottingham’s now defunct Iron Monkey, between them they have a list of releases between them that reads like the A-Z of classic underground metal records. Quite simply, this is a stoner rock wet dream and genuinely deserving of the ‘Supergroup’ moniker. All they need to do now is make some good music, easy right?
With such high expectations you’d think that there would be a lot of pressure involved in making the record. Well if there is it’s well hidden. Opening track Solar Benediction is a powerful opening statement. Starting with some classic Spirit Caravan style riffs with Wino’s Ozzy-like vocals and littered with Scott Kelly Choruses this shows four musicians not intimidated by their own achievements and continues with some classic solos and ends with a psychedelic jam. Good start.
Pyramid Of The Moon slows the pace but not the power. Kelly takes lead here and his brooding vocals match the doom riffing and monk like chanting. This sounds like some sort of lost track from Sleep’s Holy Mountainbut in the best way possible. Two tracks and 15 minutes in and Shrinebuilder have put every stoner and doom band of the new millennium shame.
The next track Blind For All To See flows on from the previous one and follows the same style. Kelly crooning dark melodies over a rumbling bass in a way Nick Cave would be proud of. Mostly more jamming, this is mellow, not boring. Slow and heavy without being a dirge. This is the weakest track but only because it passes by without any drama. It’s the acoustic break extended and transformed.
The Architect is akin to the opening track; a blend of stoner and doom, Wino and Kelly vocals and epic guitar work. This is more Hidden Hand styled; the members involved having such distinct styles that shrine through on each track and just shows that the quality from each of them hasn’t dipped. This is even more impressive since the recent individual output of the members hasn’t been the genre defining releases that they have to stand up to.