Words by Ezra La Vin – The Wretched Creatures
In their previous work, the self-titled debut in 2016 and ‘Buffalo’ from 2018, Foot established themselves as a legitimate stoner rock band with critical acclaim. A group capable of producing infectious stoner groove without getting too heavy. But this release shows us the heaviest Foot ever. The doomiest Foot ever!
‘The Balance of Nature Shifted’ is an album that is fully conceived in every way. It is rich with fresh yet familiar motifs that resonate after the first listen. Although relaxed and ambient at times, there is no fluff here. No filler. Guitarist and frontman Paul Holden obviously has an ear for hooks and an uncanny ability to write great stoner rock songs with depth and varied but balanced dynamics. The interplay between his guitar work and Dave Pemberton’s is excellent, while bassist Shaun Stolk delivers exactly what each song needs with creative melodic variation. Jack Eddie has a style of drumming that adds considerable weight to the album. With restrained agility he treads the line between cruising and crushing. Holden’s voice is bright and distinct and is often sweetened with a layered harmony at the third interval, à la Staley and Cantrell. Vocal harmonies in heavier genres are difficult to do without sounding cheesy but Holden pulls it off perfectly. A dark, ethereal sound is achieved through vocals alone. Viewed as a whole, this forty-six minute work flows nicely between each track. The production is very good, sounding warm and full.
The fuzz begins before a single note is heard. I take this as a good sign. Opening with a driving riff washed with desert fuzz, Despair On Hope Street sets the tone for this grungy stoner rock record. There are layered vocal harmonies throughout, and laid back, stoner rock fuzz accented with simple lead hooks, meandering bass lines and driving percussion. Sun drenched desert scenes come to mind. E-Sports is another great stoner rock song with great melodic diversity and hooks for days. There are hooks in the verses, hooks in the chorus and hooks in the hooks! (It’s pretty hooky.) Close your eyes and you are driving at great speed through a vivid Joshua Tree / Uluru landscape with red dust spiraling upwards in the rear view mirror. This is Australian desert rock.
Green Embers opens with an ambiance we have heard them do well before, but this time the Gods of Doom have been summoned. A monolithic doom riff sways like a bludgeoning pendulum. This heaviness is tastefully offset by sections of melodic stoner rock with dark vocal harmonies and guitar solos that are trimmed of fat and pretense leaving only a distilled melody that is pure and necessary. Running at three and a half minutes, album highlight Ride It Out is the shortest song on an album of mostly five or six minute tracks. Brooding and dark passages seamlessly give way to more intense riffing with emotive lyrics. Investment is another song to put on your desert road trip playlist. At this point it will be apparent to stoner rock fans that Foot are the real deal. Five great songs in a row. Each as good as the other and each with a memorable hook of some kind to keep you coming back. The remainder of the album does not disappoint.
Break The Altar (Light/Shade) hints at influences such as Melvins, Kyuss and QOTSA without sounding too derivative. The tone of distorted guitar sounds great sitting beneath the soaring vocals, noodling solos and bombastic rhythm section. The busy percussion that drives Neighbours provides the perfect spine for this dream-like stoner track. Manic Progression is a spacious, acid soaked journey punctuated by heavy fuzz hooks and a satisfying guitar solo before dissipating back into the mist whence it appeared. High is another solid track which is masterfully crafted to make craniums rise and fall.
This is an album that all fans of bands like Kyuss, Monster Magnet, QOTSA and Truckfighters should give a spin, or two or three.. ‘The Balance of Nature Shifted’ was released digitally on May 1st but a limited edition coloured vinyl is due to be released on July 31st via Copper Feast Records.
With thanks to Viral Propaganda PR