Tony Reed is ascending as a modest force through the doom and distortion rock underground. If his name is unfamiliar to you, then have a go with some STONE AXE and take a plunge down their Sixties and Seventies-addicted head rawk coaster. Reed slings a mean six string and vocally he's somewhere between Neil Fallon and Zakk Wylde. Reed also happens to be co-producer of SAINT VITUS' return album "Lillie: F-65". In other words, the dude knows what the heck he's doing.
So much in fact, Reed's other band MOS GENERATOR has enough nerve to present themselves and their latest album "Nomads" as something far dastardlier than what it is. A three-year layoff after a notable stretch of activity certainly kindled a new spirit for MOS GENERATOR's craft on "Nomads". You may think you're getting something bred in the footsteps of Satan's scorched imprint judging by the scarlet skies and gloomy raven perched upon a lilting Celtic cross on the cover art. Likewise, those sneering scoundrels on the album's inlay look like they're ready to impale naysayers and normal peeps upon sight.
Then you hit play on "Nomads" and really, the only songs that fit MOS GENERATOR's menacing presentation is "Step Up" and the final track, "This Is the Gift of Nature". Not that the remainder of "Nomads" is soft soap by any means. There just so happens to be a super neat musicality to the band's rough and tumble dirt rock that prompts a return look at the packaging and reflection upon where these guys have come from.
The succession of "Cosmic Ark", "Lonely One Kenobi", "Torches" and "Step Up" keeps "Nomads" rolling along on a sweet throb with innovative drops and interjections keeping the album from being just another succession of pot jams. To hit this album with a stoner tag is simply lazy.
The out-of-nowhere piano splashes in the middle of "Lonely One Kenobi" are brilliant and they keep in time with the song's primary drive. Both "Torches" and "Step Up" could've swum inside the murky channels each song hint at, but instead, they wind along through amplified, pleasurable verse-chorus-verse undulations. "Step Up" lyrically challenges MOS GENERATOR's listeners as they do themselves to step out of the darkness and into the light, as the song alternates between ugly doom tones and lofty emotiveness. Even Reed's guitar solo on "Step Up" is an amalgam of nasty and effervescent. Such duality comes from being a well-versed rock musician, but it's largely spurred by coming out on the right side of introspection.
"This Is the Gift of Nature" has a groovy, slinking bridge and tidy solo segment in-between the punishing verses, revealing Reed's gift for dynamics here and on "Cosmic Ark". The latter is a lumbering, SABBATH-borne number yielding a hell of a good acid rock break-in and a SANTANA-esque guitar solo. The transition from brutish to virtuous on "Cosmic Ark" embodies the rugged journey and enlightened discovery encapsulation Reed no doubt intended for it. As the opening number, it symbolizes the theme of contemplation MOS GENERATOR went through as a unit to emerge with a more liberal, expressive sense for what they're doing.
"Can't Get Where I Belong" is another one of "Nomads"' cheery, bobbing vehicles, while "For Your Blood" picks up the pace to a full-on march spiced with NWOBHM riffs and sing-along choruses, followed by a SABBATH-spirited bridge and solo section. While mentioning the NWOBHM, MOS GENERATOR takes on JUDAS PRIEST's "Solar Angels" and they do a faithful job with it. Sidebar, PRIEST's "Point of Entry" album deserves more attention, so kudos to MOS GENERATOR accordingly.
If there's such a thing as fusing some soul into a doom palette, MOS GENERATOR has achieved that with "Nomads". Seldom will you hear an unambiguous merge between the two outside of BLACK SABBATH's "Sabotage". Tony Reed, Scooter Haslip and Shawn Johnson have tapped into a loud vibe featuring sinister and coarse nuances yet with something revealing far more heart. Drop in (or drop out, if you will) and get lost like the album's namesake. You'll feel both grubby and cleansed after a spin or two and really, what's cooler than that?
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.