Wet Animal - Wet Animal
Escapi Music
Heavy Stoner Rock
10 songs (46:44)
Release year: 2005
Escapi Music
Reviewed by Al
Surprise of the month

Ask yourself one question before reading any further. Do I enjoy the vocal stylings employed by Layle Staley of Alice in Chains? If your answer to that question is a resounding ‘no’, head towards that little ‘back’ button at the top of your browser, this one, my friend, is not for you.

If your still reading I presume the answer was ‘yes’, ‘I’ve never decided’ or ‘Alice sounds hot, I think I’ll read this’. So without further ado, let’s get to business.

Wet Animal was formed in 1995 by Rick Wartell and Ron Holzner, the guitarist/songwriter and bassist respectively for Stoner Rock / Doom Metal band ‘Trouble’ after they called it a day . Soon into the project, Holzner left and all was put on hold for the next few years until Wartell resurrected it in 2003. With an entirely new band in tow he headed back into the studio to produce this 10 track debut effort.

Wet Animal produce a sound comprised of heavy bass ridden riffs, fuzzy as hell yet technically adept solos and some love-em or hate-em vocals. The reason I mentioned the late Layle Staley at the start of the review is that Wartell’s vocals pack more than a little similarity to Staley’s ethereal wails. Your feelings on this are obviously personal preference as I know there are just as many people who hate the style as love it. I for one count myself in the latter group, so if it’s not your thing, knock 20-30 points off the score.

This is an album of two halves, one scorchingly brilliant, one merely good and thus I will split my breakdown of the tracks accordingly. The album kicks off in fine style with the sublime ‘Soul Alone’ built around a crunching heavy riff which dissolves into a soaring chorus. Two magnificent solos later and you’re met with a breakdown which never fails to get me banging my head like a man with hair far longer than myself. So far, so superlative. ‘Lost in my head’ is an above par, pure old school hard rock tune, with a fine vocal performance. It’s followed by ‘Outside a Hole’ which develops a staccato, repeating riff into one the best stoner rock leviathans I’ve heard this side of a Kyuss album. It's at this point that I started thinking I've discovered something truly special here, but the aforementioned second half of the album was about to pull the quality down a few pegs.

Unfortunately the blissful high of ‘Outside a Hole’ is replaced by a disappointing low as the bland acoustic stylings of ‘Left Behind’ kick in. The track is almost saved by some decent soloing later on but in essence fails to work. The air-raid siren signalling the start of ‘Fade Away’ jars you out of the blandness yet also fails to quite hit the mark, erring on the side of repetition. ‘Don’t Put Me Down’ improves things somewhat with a fantastic intro and structure, but is hurt by an uninspired chorus. ‘Nomad’s Land’ is an epic slow burner that immediately turns proceedings back to the happy place they were at the start of the album. The record is polished off with the frankly bizarre off-kilter ‘Wreathe of Roses’, another highlight in the form of ‘Relentless’ and the mostly instrumental yet deliciously heavy ‘Extra Track’

This is a good release by a very good band. The unmistakable songwriting and musical prowess on display here bodes well for some very bright things in the future. While the quality of the first half of the record outweighs that of the second the few amazing tracks make this a worthwhile purchase for any fans of stoner rock, ‘Trouble’ or for those of you who fancy something heavy yet mellow for the morning after the night before.

Killing Songs :
Soul Alone, Outside a Hole, Nomad's Land, Relentless
Al quoted 84 / 100
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There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Thu Nov 24, 2005 3:48 am
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