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Ditchliquor : Ditchliquor

Ditchliquor; the name calls to mind an ugly mix of standing water and human waste, steaming fragrantly at the side of the road in the sun. There may be a better definition of the word, but that will do. Which would be a disservice to the Portland, Oregon group of the same name, because although they bring quite a musical mix to the stoner/space/doom table, they're produced one of the best demos I've heard in months, right up there with the first-class efforts by Mindblizz and Numbah Ten. Ditchliquor has a unique, diverse sound, and anyone into heavy tuneage would be well repaid by checking them out.

This power trio has taken their art/punk background and applied it to a heavy stoner/doom sound, honing it with dozens of live shows in the northwest until it shines dully like Jack the Ripper's straight razor. 'Mandrake' starts the disc off with hallucinatory feedback swirls, shifting into the minor key doomy metal of 'Morningstar,' with a few rhythmic changeups thrown in. You'll hear a bit of M. Gira and Ian Curtis in bassist Joe Wickstrom's strained, bellowed vocals. 'Megalomotherfucker' is one of the disc's high points, with a stonier sound, lightning-fast guitar solos, and a brief flash of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo in the guitar tonalities. 'On the Side of the Road' has punk speed and metal intricacy, with vocals that may remind you of the late, lamented Beaver. 'The Universal Void' gets all doomy, with strong dollops of 'Sabbath mixed with space rock, forming the album's best track. 'What Time' has Detroit-ish vocals courtesy of drummer Shawn against some heavy stoner/space, and 'Roseburg' begins with majestic doom building into some heavy stoner riffage. And there's that brief Sonic Youth guitar flash again!

Ditchliquor's vocals are strong but uneven, due to the fact that all three members sing. This can be a strength or a weakness: you decide. The bad news is that apparently guitarist Evan Enge has left the band, returning to Brooklyn, NY. If 'Nothing' is any indication, Enge had a strong, positive influence within the group. The challenge will be coming up with a suitable replacement, which will not be easy.

Here's wishing for an effortless transition, because this fine group's future hangs in the balance.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Mandrake
2. Morningstar
3. MegaloMotherfucker
4. Nothing
5. On the Side of the Road
6. The Universal Veil
7. Provoking the Ghost
8. What Time
9. Roseburg

Duration : Approx. 41 minutes

Visit the Ditchliquor bandpage.

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