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Calamus : A Few Lines in Mind

My interest in Germany's Calamus goes back to 2000, when their seminal track, 'Not Tomorrow' appeared on that bible of the late 90s stoner/doom movement, Underdogma's stellar 'Judge Not' comp.. It was a stand-out track in a sea of monstrously hot tunes too numerous too mention, and it piqued my interest enough to track down a copy of their rare 'Highdrive' LP. In a time when Sweden, California and New Jersey were monopolizing the underground, it helped put Germany on the map. This was followed by the fantastic 'These Days' album, a benchmark in unapologetic stonerdom, a first-rate exercise in desert heaviness and groove. Hot on its heals was their appearance at SHOD in Dallas, a self-confessed favorite gig among the band and a jaw-dropper for those in the audience dedicated enough - or deranged enough - to have made the trip.

After all this Calamus was permanently on my radar as a group to watch. But things grew strangely quiet, and aside from a reissue of 'These Days' the band seemed to be slipping away, a sad statistic like so many of the bands on those early comps.. They finally resurfaced with the 'A Few Lines in Mind' EP, but it was difficult to get ahold of, confined as it was to a limited edition of 500. The Gods - in the form of Daredevil mag. maven and Calamus vocalist Ralf Burkart, smiled on me after many moons of waiting, and a copy finally appeared on my doorstep. Ah, now this... THIS was what I was waiting for! Still unapologetic but more mature and effective, the band refuses to put that joint down and pour that beer out. Somehow, they've mixed in that on-the-edge lifestyle with musical influences ranging from Hellacopters to 'Priest to punk to Voivod to the NWOBHM, rolled it up with a fat dollop of grooves and hooks, and all without frying every brain cell in their craniums. They've still got the energy that had back in 2000, but with added subtlety and craft. This is stoner the way it should be, bright, intelligent, inventive, and fresh. There's loads of desert sounds, chockablock with plenty of melody and dynamics, from strummed acoustic guitars to body-slamming heaviness.

Like I said above, this EP is limited to 500 copies, so run don't walk. I also know for a fact that they've recorded an entire album's worth of music that's just as good as 'A Few Lines in Mind', tentatively titled 'The Same Old Demons'. The thing is, they've welcomed a new guitar player from Portugal into the Calamus family, so the plan is to re-record all of this in the next few months with the new guy. In the meantime, show the world what an independent thinker you are, that you're not afraid of the anti-stoner backlash, and that there's more to life than blowing smoke about the latest musical flava of the week. Support some serious talent and surf on over to Calamus' website.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Who's Gonna Lie to Me
2. All Fear
3. Devil's Run

Multimedia track:
Heal All Pain (Video)

Duration : Approx. 12 minutes

Visit the Calamus bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
Hate Your Guts Records
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