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Rotten Copper : Rotten Copper

Different and interesting, Rotten Copper venture into dystopian old-school Psych/Stoner territories.

Welcome back to the somewhat crazy world of Steve Cefala, this time in the shape of the Rotten Copper project: a wild ride through dystopian sci-fi territory described as "Collapse Rock" where "in the year 2089, a gang of wasteland bikers go on a cross-country road trip and battle a host of enemies".

If I'm honest, I'm not sure "Collapse Rock" is actually a thing - or, if it is, it's so niche that it's off the scale as far as search engines are concerned. But if this is an example of it, it's pretty much a child of the '60s. You could probably draw parallels with the '70s, mixing up the trippier Hard Rock of The Doors with the Space/Punk of Inner City Unit and the early Doom of Trouble, if you preferred, but I'm more inclined to namecheck the experimental likes of Mick Farren's The (Social) Deviants and their proto-everything approach. Blurring that slightly are some more contemporary Extreme touches, with off-piste digressions such as the murky Death Metal-ish 'Maximum Overdrive'-themed 'The Green Nebula'. In general, though, it's a kinda rough, kinda ready, bluesy psychedelic landscape that eschews much of the higher-tempo blackened aggression found in others of Steve's projects from the mid-'90s Dawning to the recent No God Only Pain.

It is still coming out of roughly the same place, if you want to talk about raw production values and unpolished end-products: if that's the kind of thing that interests you, then this 2016 interview covers a lot of the philosophy behind those decisions. Rotten Copper, for all that it does present a somewhat slicker and clearer soundscape, is still what you'd probably have to describe as a deep underground release, more concerned with expressing concept and hungry experimentation than arbitrary technical or studio wizardry. And, certainly, the cynical, nihilistic death-trip lyrics form both story and allegory in familiar fashion, inviting another mention of Mick Farren - this time for his darkly futuristic counterculture fantasy fiction.

And, on those terms, I have to admit that part of the appeal I find here is a nostalgic one: I (mis?)spent a lot of my long-ago youth listening to original Psych/Rock albums, and it's rather pleasant to be revisiting that with something new and fresh to my ears. But I'm also giving 'Rotten Copper' plenty of credit in its own right, for ploughing an idiosyncratic and individual groove of its own, and bringing that together as a compelling whole that adds up to a lot more than the sum of its largely comparatively simple 'garage'-style elements. Truth is, though the more modernistic moments provide some interesting contrast, I could probably live without them, and just enjoy the main theme of a languid, jamming-yet-riffy semi-acoustic approach all day.

As noted above, this is no super hi-fi experience, and the basic DIY card sleeve package reinforces that. Light on frills, but quite starkly elegant (with a nice 'Illuminatus!'-type design by Jessica Bones), it's pretty much a perfect match for the content. Guest musicians on the closing track aside, it's all solo work: honest, ornamented but not fussily so, and with enough clarity and separation to pick out the more exceptionally pleasing moments. Unusually for such a project, those are spread quite evenly across the instruments, with bass, guitar, vocals all getting a look-in, while drums and the very sparsely used keys both punctuate and emphasise.

So, where does that leave us for a summary? Well, I have to say this is one of the more intriguing modern-retro Doom releases I've had the pleasure of encountering in recent years, probably because it sounds so authentic and complete. It's not really trying to be retro, so much as succeeding in distilling out the essence of earliest Stoner/Doom, and - in doing so - manages to sound very different from the vast majority of what's out there these days. So, if you fancy a bit of a change of scenery, look no further than heading out into the badlands on this brief but perfectly-formed trip.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Roadmap To Destruction
2. Mortal Retaliation
3. Dark Castle Walls
4. Quintet Of Doom
5. The Green Nebula
6. The Baroquen
7. Rose Hild Witch
8. Robokill Plaza
9. Photophobia
10. Odds Of Survival
11. Lizard Lords

Duration : Approx. 33 minutes

Visit the Rotten Copper bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-06-30 by Mike Liassides
Vanha - Black Lion
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