Sons of Otis – Seismic
Seismic is an apt title for the ninth long-player from Toronto’s Sons of Otis. It’s the sound of tectonic plates plates shifting, heavy as a continent taking the listener deep into its primordial murk. Sons of Otis take the basic power trio template of bass, guitar and drums some dark places. It’s simple, but mightily effective. With riffs heavily reliant on tritone intervals (the Diabolus in Musica as it’s known), bass and guitar not straying far from the lower end of their fretboards, and drums stripped back but hitting heavy.
It’s a formula that’s maintained over the album’s seven tracks, each one an extended jam. “When will I learn” intones singer and guitarist Ken Baluke on ‘Lessons’, his voice sounding like Beelzebub himself gargling molten lava, self-loathing and fear always bubbling under the surface. With song titles such as ‘Far From Fine’, ‘Guilt’, ‘Alone’, and ‘Never In My Life’ this is music for the loner, the stoner and the uncool ones that didn’t go to the prom.
On the intriguingly titled ‘PK’ the band branch out into vocal-less space rock, like Hawkwind on mogadons (or should that be more mogadons?). ‘Never In My Life’ ups the tempo, firing off killer blues rock riffs ad even adding a little funk into the brew. Album closer ‘Cosmic Jam’ sounds like Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ played punch-drunk after a street brawl, in a good way of course.
The band have been around for twenty years now (originally simply called Otis), have had countless line-up changes, yet have admirably ploughed the same furrow oblivious to the fads, fashions and whims of the wider music industry. If you’re into Sabbath style heavy psychedelia it’s right down your gutter. If you’re easily spooked or don’t have the stomach for it, best stay away. As for me, well I never did go to any proms.