Wartime should be a golden opportunity for heavy metal reinvigoration. Bad smallpox shots, Don Rumsfeld’s patented press-briefing sneer, Spectre gunship cannon fire cutting down wedding parties—great inspirational backdrop for grinding guitar and moaning throats.
However, it all seems lost on the indifferent underground metal musician, a species almost exclusively devoted to antiseptically reproducing Tony Iommi’s ’74 riff tone sans feel—an accomplishment notable only for the startling number of skid row phone booth-type indies distributing it. Since those making stoner doom are almost universally idiots, consumer choices should be limited to no more than two titles for the next 15 months.
First, Sheavy’s Synchronized features a singer with an Ozzy fetish so strong it has defeated any and all attempts to get the music taken seriously. Bad luck, because “Kill Queens Go Disco” and “Ultraglide” beat anything Osbourne can do at this diminished juncture regardless of how Zakk Wylde tries to prop him up. The album’s better than Never Say Die—maybe on par with Vol. 4. When Ozzy inevitably goes to the wheelchair in assisted living, Sheavy is the band Sharon must call on as ringers to keep the franchise alive.
And Pentagram’s Turn to Stone is a must. Thirty years in the business, almost twice that many records sold—or so it seems. But for Pentagram, persistence of vision works. The collection is mid-’80s Cotton Mather-inspired sludge ‘n’ cack, a style absolutely no mass demographic is or was interested in—shunned even in Britain, where this band of Virginians was mystifyingly sent to market. “Vampire Love” is a catchy trudge-metal classic; “The Ghoul,” Edgar Allan Poe for those prone to tattooing themselves using the nibs off fountain pens. And Bobby Liebling is a Roky Erickson type who mixes blues mumbling, I’m-living-in-a-ram’s-head black metal dogma, and Johnny Cash storytelling in the space of an hour and a half.