Feuerzeug – ‘Dead Wahines And Tsunamis’ Album Review

Feuerzeug, unpronounceable name aside, are a stoner quartet from Switzerland who have come together around the sublime influences of Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Nirvana and the ubiquitous Queens of the stone age and on this, their second album, they unleash a positive firestorm of sand-blasted riffs and smoke-corroded vocals over thirteen life-affirming, herbally enhanced tracks.

Split into two acts (and an interlude), ‘Dead Wahines and tsunamis’ is an ambitious record that veers wildly between straight up stoner rock (‘Cyclops will be beheaded’), brutal blasts of churning, bass-led noise (‘landkreuzer’) and menacing ambient (‘cruising the desert (part two)’) and does so with a style and panache that will undoubtedly see the band go further once people start to take notice. Opening, then, with the aforementioned ‘cyclops will be beheaded’, the album starts out on familiar ground, the guitars overloading the amps and possessed of that vital, gritty sound so beloved of Kyuss. It’s a strong, if not terribly original start, but it does at least prepare you for the wonders within without scaring you off with its wilful experimentalism. Heavier is ‘landkreuzer’, a track that is more than tentatively in touch with its bottom end, as the bass-line corrodes and destroys everything that it comes into contact with. That’s it, however, for the familiar – from here in on things get heavier, stranger and, well, indefinably cooler. ‘Evel Knievel has kissed the devil’, amazing title aside, is an ill-advised and yet mind-bendingly brilliant fusion of vintage Red Hot Chilli Peppers-style funk and Monster Magnet. By no means should it work, but then rock music has always worked best with such doubts cast to the wind and so it proves here as the bouncing funk of the verse gives way to a monumentally huge, grinding stoner chorus complete with blistering solos and primal grunts. Equally great is ‘I’ll scratch till I bleed a flood’ which has a frightful groove offset with punkish vocals and a crushing production sound that threatens to eclipse everything in its path. The brilliantly titled ‘nitroghostcar’ is another caustic sidestep, this time launching from the starting blocks like Black Sabbath covering Nirvana’s ‘Negative creep’ twenty years before it was written… it’s heavy, groovy and possessed of an attitude that’s all its own, to the extent that you find yourself ducking spittle as the vocals foam out of the speakers.

Moving towards the interlude and ‘fusion van’ opens with a crackly, through-a-bad-transistor-radio riff that explodes into life with a vengeance, the track packing a mighty groove that Monster Magnet would have been proud to call their own on the mighty ‘Powertrip’ and then we enter the end of act one with ‘cruising the desert (part one)’, a distorted, road-trippin’ monster that sounds like the journey every Hunter S Thompson obsessed teenager would like to take, time and money permitting.

If ‘cruising the desert (part one)’ sounded like a trip into the very heart of decadence, then part two (the interlude) feels very much like the come down, all downbeat guitars and rumbling toms set to the sound of the swirling desert wind. It paves the way neatly for Act two which bravely starts with the astonishing ‘release the Kraken’, a nine minute epic of searing proportions that utilises clever time changes and a multitude of dusty riffs to keep interest levels high over its lengthy duration. It’s the album’s monumental centrepiece and the highlight of a record already crammed with solid-gold riffs, whilst the brilliantly lugubrious ending will make your spine tingle as the band unleash a volley of increasingly spacey effects over a huge, hulking riff of earth-shaking proportions. ‘Kometa’, meanwhile, has a hell of a lot to live up to, but does so by upping the tempo and heading off into space with a riff that’s somewhere between Soundgarden and Hawkwind and every bit as cool as such a pairing sounds.

Having truly buried the competition with such varied and brilliant tunes, ‘Lieplorodon Vs giant Orthocone’ opens with swampy bass and a solid riff, although in truth you’re still trying to shake the mind-frying brilliance of the previous two tracks from your head, and then turns the whole thing upside-down by twisting into QOTSA ‘little sister’ territory via a nifty time change that undoubtedly keeps good drummer Marc Cappelletti on his toes. ‘Magma, lava and burned karma’ is a slower, doomier take that gives David Van Neeg and Esteban Von Wolfsberg  plenty of opportunity to unleash their arsenal of guitar fx before tearing into a fiery riff of seismic proportions. That just leaves the sonically challenging title track (another beast at just shy of ten minutes), with its hints of Sonic Youth, roaring feedback, sunny melodies and super-hot riffs to truly put the fear of god into the old guard of stoner bands and cement Feuerzeug’s reputation as the up and coming stoner band.

At seventy minutes there was every danger that Feuerzeug were going to over-indulge to no purpose and yet, remarkably, they shatter every expectation and succeed only in going one louder on every track until the utterly awe-inspiring conclusion to the album sees the whole thing explode in cascades of light. True the band riff on their influences – a touch of Kyuss here, a touch of soundgarden there; but what makes them so successful is their ability to go so far beyond that and twist and tear everything until they come up with something completely new and innovative. Recognisably stoner rock, there are influences here that range from the complex psychedelic prog-epics of the late seventies to the more concise pop-infused tunes of QOTSA making this an album that offers much to the dedicated listener. Add to that the brilliantly conceived artwork that adorns the sleeve and CD itself and you have a near perfect record. Add Feuerzeug to your list, it is guaranteed that if you have even a hint of rock music in your blood this will set it ablaze in a way that few acts can. A stunning sonic achievement.  

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