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Oh Sees - Smote Reverser (Album Review)

Monday, 20 August 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

On their 21st full length album, ‘Smote Reverser’, John Dwyer’s constantly evolving gang have served up a psych-rock record of head-banging machismo. As on 2017’s ‘Orc’ - also released under the Oh Sees banner - he has employed the dual drumming unit of Paul Quattrone and Dan Rincon, with frenetic, thrilling results.

We open with Sentient Oona, a busy but patient art-rocker that makes great use of drawbar organ and effervescent, hushed vocals. It’s an immense track that throws down a marker for the music to come, with fabulous band-craft that feels extemporised despite intricate stylings and ornate rhythmic switches. Like much of Oh Sees’ output, this is an album loaded with intense ideas that purr and scream and retch and snatch.

C is another such moment. It’s a galloping dirge that has the cataleptic sexuality of a Doors jam, while retaining the heaviness and aggression that characterises much of Dwyer’s output.

The Doors are a pretty good touchpoint for ‘Smote Reverser’ as a whole, with Tomas Dolas using similar keyboard voices to Ray Manzarek (crunchy Rhodes, the aforementioned drawbar organ) and softer vocals coming from both from Dwyer and Brigid Dawson, which wither and sway with phantasmal elegance, á la Jim Morrison.

That said, ‘Smote Reverser’ does not feel derivative. A side effect of Oh Sees’ formal idiosyncrasies (dozens of line-up changes, prolific album output, subtle name changes) is that creative energy rarely appears to sap. Actually, the band tends to operate more like a jazz ensemble, with revolving musicians bringing their own creative, competitive catharsis to recording sessions.

Whatever the alchemy, ‘Smote Reverser’ is up there with the band’s best work, and the recordings of prog jams such as Last Peace and Anthemic Aggressor must have felt like bonafide trance-inducing happenings. The live show needs to be seen. This is what the Grateful Dead are supposed to sound like.

Oh Sees Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri August 31 2018 - MARGATE Margate Winter Gardens
Sun September 02 2018 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Mon September 03 2018 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town

Click here to compare & buy Oh Sees Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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