The stoner rock genre has been on an upswing in the past few years. With classics reuniting and a new groovy band popping up every day, there is no shortage of riffs in rock right now, but when a subgenre becomes that busy sometimes a band needs to shake things up. Thankfully, Philadelphia’s Ecstatic Vision knows exactly what direction rock music should be moving in, supplying it with a heavy, heavy, dose of psych with their debut record, Sonic Praise. The band cites Hawkwind, UFO and Amon Duul II as influences, and it’s not hard to see why. Their first release is the result of a collision between trance, Krautrock, Afrobeat and the occasional reminder of guitarist Doug Sabolick’s past in the metalcore band A Life Once Lost, and it is a heck of a trip.
Sonic Praise opens with “Journey,” the most similar to a standard stoner metal song on the album. In fact, you could even compare it to something Monster Magnet might put out and it wouldn’t be too far of a reach. The journey continues with the longest track on the album, “Astral Plane,” which clocks in at 12 minutes and gives listeners a far better idea of the content of the rest of the album.
Sonic Praise is no metal album, it is a psychedelic trance record that happens to be filled with heavy riffs and grooving drums. While the heaviness of the first track is not lost at any point on this record, by the time you reach the final song, “Cross the Divide,” very few comparisons to metal can be made. But that won’t stop heads from banging a bit; it’s clear these guys know how to find a balance between styles of music that could clash just as easily as they blend together.
A Life Once Lost fans looking for a continuation of the now defunct band will not find it in Sonic Praise, though they may pick up on the musical trends hinted at on their final album, Ecstatic Trance. Instead, Ecstatic Vision has paved the way for what will hopefully be a reintroduction of psychedelia into heavy music and maybe even a much needed reassessment of what heavy even means.