Tales From the Southland, Tales From the Sea
In theory, stoner rock should have nearly matched the popularity of grunge. After all, grunge was a revival of '70s hard rock with an injection of punk spirit, and stoner rock is the continuation of its slower elements, as preached by such early '90s prophets as Kyuss and Monster Magnet. But the reality is that it was pulverized prematurely by nu-metal's ascent, and overall it's still an underground thing.
And that's just fine with Satanic Bat, the latest Pittsburgh band to seriously approach the stoner throne. Its new album, Tales From the Southland, Tales From the Sea, probably derives some inspiration from the stoner/doom giants below the Mason-Dixon: Buzzoven, Weedeater, Dixie Witch, Eyehategod. You'll like the Bat if you like those.
"Skull Bong Rock" (yes, you'll have song titles like that in this genre) has a sinewy twin-guitar line that hearkens back to the days of Skin Yard, and the epic "White Gypsy/Dirty Talkin' Flower" takes you on a long-distance journey whether you're smoking the "Sweet Leaf" or not. And "Digital Drones vs. Jazzbot 6000" makes it clear how much influence Hawkwind's space-rock still has on this generation's sonic experiments.
The aspect most clearly setting this band apart is that drummer Steve Sobeck (ex-Forced Under) is also the lead vocalist. When he emits a heavily reverbed rebel yell -- courtesy of production by Dennis Warner of Ground Control Studio -- Sobeck sounds like he means it, no mean feat while also anchoring a rhythm section that flows like molasses.
Naturally, if you're into the core icons of the stoner underground -- Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Spirit Caravan -- you'll want to add Satanic Bat to your pantheon. But random Pittsburgh hard-rock and metal fans should take note, too -- here's a local quartet that offers the same devil-sign-raising feeling in a local club that you'd otherwise only get once a year at Ozzfest.