February 5, 2009 | , | 3.5

Megashira, The Stark Arctic

Megashira: The Stark Arctic

Hailing from the dank swamps of New Jersey, Megashira unleash their debut album The Stark Arctic — a near hour long trudging venture through a hazy, desolate field of sludgy doom. Channeling the groove and stoner influences of early Monster Magnet, as well as the attitude and sludge of EyeHateGod, Megashira deliver resin caked doom riffs and thundering rhythms.

Vocally, lead singer J.J Koczan utilizes mid range shouts, clean screams and deep gutturals to deliver the band’s message amongst swirling, discordant noise. The guitars of George Pierro are chock full of down-tuned goodness as he sweeps through massive riffs and dissonant noise. The rhythm section only proves to support this “stark” foreboding feeling as the album moves along. All together, The Stark Arctic is a desolate and punishing listening experience.

Ongoing Corneal Erosion
This opening song is essentially an intro to the album lasting a few minutes. Distant guitars and drumming set the mood appropriately dripping with feeling of despair and desolation.

Caribou Crossing
“Caribou Crossing” starts off with some decent drumming as guitar reverb fades in with some stoner riffing heavy on the wah-wah. It’s got a nice groove as the riffing shifts to a more doomy feel like old school The Obsessed. When the vocals finally come in they are raw and screamed from the deepest depths of the swamp from which these guys have culled their doom mastery. Amongst the stoner vibe to the guitars there’s also a healthy dose of sludge added to the mix with solid guitar distortion and plodding rhythms. Damn, this song has some head banging groove to it — one that would go great with a room chokingly full of bong smoke.

Ammonia for Sweat
Super thick riffing opens up “Ammonia for Sweat.” The pace starts at a crawl as the guitars churn in the gloom for about a minute and a half before slowing to a near crawl with calculated drum work and spoken vocals. Plenty of guitar noise accompany the vocals and light drumming. Every gets back up to “speed” with big riffs and guttural/screamed vocals at 2:25. It’s not quite as slow as funeral doom, but still has a monolithic feel that’ll bury you alive. The track gets into a frenzy of guitar noise, guttural growls and screams and thundering rhythms after the seven minute mark.

Baggage Claim/Skin Slip
This next one has a good deal more energy to it with driving riffs and quicker tempo. The various vocal deliveries are raw and tortured leaving nothing left to imagine. Overall this one is awash ins cymbal crashes and guitar distortion. There’s a decent groove flowing behind all the eruptions of noise that will have you nodding along. The track ends quietly with extended guitar noise after a slick bit of drumming.

Hi from Jersey
“Hi from Jersey” starts off quietly with distant reverb and quiet singing as some solid riffs come in after the first 10 seconds. The riffing builds slowly as the drums come in with a big scream from Koczan, whose vocals are pretty damned raw throughout this song. There is some massive riffing early on in the fourth minute that just about swallows the rest of the band. Following quickly behind them is a bunch of squealing guitars and thundering drums. The track ends with a load of distortion and growls culminating in a frenzied eruption of chaos and sludge.

Back to Muro
The 22 plus minute monolith that is “Back to Muro” wraps up the album by starting off with some light guitar work and ambient noise. The lighter guitars and steady, soft beat continue to about the 3:15 mark when a stoned out riff comes in with slightly heavier drum work. After a bit of reverb at the 4:30 mark, Megashira unleash the mega riff, a slowly developing monstrosity of stoner doom guitar work. We finally get a taste of vocals just before six minutes into the track and they are raspy and raw. Things really pick up at this point with thundering grooves and steady influx of bong smoke into the mix of distorted riffs. Some 14 minutes later after several moments of desolate slowing of the pace you’re left reeking of bong water and a bit drowsy after the trip.

~ ~ ~

Megashira‘s The Stark Arctic is an hour’s worth of stoner infused doom metal that has massive groove, yet is so completely raw it’s got a rusty edge. I can’t wait to hear more from these guys.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: