Portland has already given the stoner/doom genre quite a lot of great bands. But chances are that this year Portland will be remembered by Hippie Death Cult’s excellent debut album 111. For me this band seem to come from out of nowhere. But there’s has been quite a run up to this record. Guitarist Eddie Brnabic has been playing around with riffs and song ideas for years before the actual release of Hippie Death Cult’s debut. The result is very impressive.
111 takes some time to sink in. But the more you listen to the songs, the more new things you hear and the more addictive this record becomes. The songs are sort of a mix of doom, stoner, grunge and blues(rock). There’s some obvious Sabbath influences in some of the songs (the tritonal passage in Sanctimonious for example). Grunge has probably been an influence for these musicians also, because some of the vocal melodies or guitar tones really have an Alice In Chains/Soundgarden vibe to it. The bluesy edge and rhythmic feel of some of the songs remind me of bands like Pentagram and Goatsnake.
It’s easy to give compliments because every song is just pretty damn good. I love Ben Jackson vocals. He has a very powerful voice with a raw, bluesy feel to it. The rhythm section is really in control in all of the songs. Laura Phillips and Ryan Moore rhythms sound tight, but playful as well. And Eddie Brnabic, well he proves that there are still quite a few awesome riffs to play that Mr. Iommi didn’t think of already. Sanctimonious, Unborn and Treehugger are personal favorites. But everything I love about this band is in the last song Black Snake. Stunning vocals, tons of cool riffs and a great song structure with an epic ending. I have yet to see another band come with a better song in 2019 than Black Snake.
Combining elements from genres like stoner, doom and blues has been done quite a few times before. Hippie Death Cult’s isn’t do anything revolutionary there. But these are simply just well-crafted songs played by excellent musicians. 111 is an album where everything just falls perfectly into place. This is highly addictive and a contester of the album of the year.