Blaak Heat Shujaa – Blaak Heat Shujaa   2 comments

I found it rather difficult to start this review about Blaak Heat Shujaa, a new band devoted to desert rock.

There are so many bands playing desert-stoner rock with any possible shade, and doing it well, that it may come difficult to point out what makes a band different from the others. Of course it is possible, and it may be rewarding as well. The fact is that Blaak Heat Shujaa seduced me.

Blaak Heat Shujaa is from France, partly from Paris and partly from the Alpine Mountainland, no sand dunes to be found anyway.

It’s not so common to hear about a French stoner-desert rock band.

France is a bit of anomaly in Europe which has been and is swept by a prolific wave of stoner-doom metal infection. Music-wise France appears to be colonized by legions of satanic metal hordes that have been and still produce some of the most original, varied and often ferocious black metal around. The rest of the underground panorama may appear a bit cloudy from outside, even in less punishing music realms like stoner and doom metal. Heavy music databases do list a significant number of French stoner-doom bands (e.g., about 30 in Metal Archives). There are some fine bands in those lists, such as Glowsun, Space Patrol, Huata, ÖfÖ Am, Mudweiser, Hangman’s Chair, Boozing Truckers, etc., but French bloggers claim that the scene is not as lively as in other areas. Something you get to know about these bands from, say, US webzines, although things are moving thanks to French blogosphere travellers proud to spread the news, webzines and blogs (like Desert-Rock.com and Stoned Gatherings) that actively promote concerts and/or at least inform about the local old and new bands.

Blaak Heat Shujaa is one of the brand new French bands that I happened to know some time ago through suggestions in webzines The Obelisk and The Soda Shop.

The début album Blaak Heat Shujaa was released in September 2010 by label Improvising Beings.

A fairly bit of time has passed but I still go back to Blaak Heat Shujaas debut album rather regularly when I’m saturated with my abitual overdose of doom, death, black, crust and thrash metal.

The line-up  includes three garcons: Antoine Morel-Vulliez (bass and vocals), Thomas Bellier (guitars and vocals) and Timothée Gacon (drums and percussions).

A reviewer wrote that this band and their substantial self-titled debut album “came out from nowhere”. Indeed it was like a meteorite. Music was written in France by coupling a taste for stoner-desert rock and psychedelia with some personal experiences, like travels to foreign lands (California, Tanzania, Uganda, Spain). The feeling, and the pride of these three guys of being “not part of the scene” and the desire of creating something original spanning across genres, even if within the boundaries of desert rock, have been surely supported by good ideas, creativity and a great musicianship. To get the best out of these ingredients the touch of a guru was searched for: these Frenchmen flew to California, to work on the production of their album with legendary Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder at his Sanctuary Studio.

Nine songs for over one hour of psychedelic desert rock are the result of this combined work, where apparently Scott Reeder did his best to bring out the most in terms of atmospheres and sounds especially for the bass lines leading the whole album. The production is great and all the instruments are balanced, yet that dominant bass line is fascinating.

The final sounds are rather but not only Kyussian.  The album is intended to be a sort of mind-warping, spiritual trip where hypnotic jams rendered through a pulsing prominent bass, reverberating guitars, pedal effects and even “exotic” instruments like sitar and maracas, make up a continuous soundscape where the dynamic “aggression” of the riffs periodically unfold. Maybe the drum sounds are a bit subdue, but they are balanced and fit perfectly with the overall softness of the sound and are adequately supportive of the bass and guitar jams. 

The album is mostly instrumental. Vocal parts, performed by guitarist Antoine and bassist Thomas, are subordinate relative to the massive guitar work, yet they sound fresh and are essential to the overall atmosphere. The occasional use of voice distortion as if apparels like Vocoder were employed, are probably a further artifix for enhancing the psychedelic effects, although I personally prefer where the voices sound clean. It’s my personal opinion that vocals, either soft, harsh, warm or gritty, always add a precious, if not unique spice to the tunes, so that I’m generally not able to fully appreciate purely instrumental music, my bad.

In the track MIA the vocal parts particularly give me shivers along my spine as they remind me of Layne Staley’s singing in some Mad Season songs.

The dominance of the psychedelic, meditative, trance-inducing, spacey atmospheres and an overall rather slow pace of the sound surely recall bands like Yawning Man, Naam, Dead Meadow, Earthless, Colour Haze and even Om (not to mention  decades of acid psychedelic music produced across the Atlantic Ocean), in addition to or more than desert rock titans like Kyuss, Nebula and/or Dozer. Tracks High On Altitude, MIA and Where You at are however drenched with Kyussan remembrance. The monumental track Moon almost starts in a straight doom mood. Some additional kick is added by the use of  some melodies in pure Ennio Morricone’s western movie style, as it is the case for the opening track High On Altitude and, especially, for track The Brown Buffalo. That’s it, you find yourself instantly thrown onto a horse galloping in the desert while sunset is flashing the sky with red and purple shades against the black horizon made of table mountains and saguaros …

So this album is great fun. It’s long and involving with its psychedelic, opium-, or weed-scented spires, yet it is rich and varied. Songs are similar to one another, they are interlocked by a common imprint but each one has its own character and you’ll find yourself going back to this album to grasp any of the sensations induced by this desert trip.

So, basically, what’s special with Blaak Heat Shujaa?

I don’t know. Nothing that I can point easily at. Nothing new has surely been invented, but this glimpse of French desert is sounding so very charming, and, above all and in spite of all, incredibly fresh …  9/10
Review Written By Mari ( The Sludge Swamp )

Desert Rock Webzine
Stoned Gatherings Blogspot
Blaak Heat @ Myspace
Blaak Heat Shujaa Store

Advertisements

Posted November 2, 2010 by doommantia in Blaak Heat Shujaa

2 responses to “Blaak Heat Shujaa – Blaak Heat Shujaa

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. They opened for Dead Meadow in Paris at the beginning of the year. Pretty good show for a fresh band. I can't wait to listen to their recorded material, now.

  2. Got it through Souffle Continu in their hometown Paris. Go for it guys. Scott Reeder's mix is AWESOME.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: