Sometimes, yes – because the paths of this genre have been wandered and trodden on for a long time. Sometimes, no – if you do not expect a total re-invention of a genre that holds decades long ago so high in their appraisal. Those bands sound like a mixture of Pentagram, Sabbath, Purple and partially Rainbow. Or more “recent” Kyuss, QOTSA, Fu Manchu and Orange Goblin. So how to see if you have a relevant stoner band before you or not?
Maybe the number of releases is an indicator as only the good ones are allowed several records – in this case Black Rainbows are really relevant: “Cosmic Ritual Supertrip” is their eighth full-length since their inception in 2007, not counting several 7-inches or splits.
Might we say a relevant band adds something new to the genre? Again, the Italian trip from Rome can score. Their singer Gabriele Fiori doesn’t try to imitate any genre crooner but is pretty close to Billy Corgan, if he wanted to use his testicles when singing and not sit at home whining about his poor life being a millionaire.
Is a moment of utter surprise necessary? Not really, because if you love that genre, then you love that genre. No need to completely overthrow it. Black Rainbows have all the must-haves. A good blues-stomper like “Isolation” or a frantic speed-attack like the opener “At Midnight You Cry”. A small tearjerker like “The Great Design” and a little punky-ditty like “Master Rocket Power Blast”.
Nevertheless, is there a really reliable determiner if it’s a good record amidst that never-ending flood of stoner bands? Yes: I must believe them; must be able to picture them driving around in a muscle car towards the sunset where they will take their boards from the back and skate around some Southern Californian urban jungle just to get to a diner in time for a lush milk-shake. As stupid as that stereotype is – the three Romans totally fulfill it. They clearly are not in it for the money, they are here for the love of that warm sound that is able to wrap itself around your ears, and later your soul. “Cosmic Ritual Supertrip” is one of those records for the late afternoon drive when you suddenly realize that taking a turn and driving around for half an hour more is not a detour but the best thing to do. There is nothing bad in being a stoner band – if you do it right. The listener must be able to let go of reason and simply feel the music. Let go of the idea that every record must be a new musical invention. Follow the trail to the sun, dude!