SonicAbuse’s first encounter with Regulus was at last year’s epic HRH Doom Vs Stoner outing (held in Sheffield and reviewed here). The band were awesome and we found ourselves, along with a good portion of the crowd, over at the merch stand, ready to hand the band our wallets before we could stop ourselves. Fronted by the engaging Luke Jennings and with a sound that draws upon Monster Magnet, Kyuss and even Cream, the band have a psychedelic edge that sets them apart from the more riff-based acts among their peers and places them on a bluesier, more jam-oriented path that will keep you hooked throughout the album.
Recorded at Playing Aloud Studios in Lincoln and produced by bassist Martyn Lucas-Bewick and guitarist Thomas ‘Oz’ Osborne, ‘Quadralith’ does an impressive job of capturing the band’s raw spontaneity, with tracks segueing neatly into one another and a herbal-scented atmosphere building nicely over the course of the ten tracks on offer. From the moment the Josh Homme-esque riff of ‘Dominion’ kicks the album off, Regulus have the listener in their collective palm. Luke delivers the goods with an impressive range that runs the gamut from tar ‘n’ nicotine-stained roar to lysergic croon whilst the band rampage through the desert high on mescaline and obsessed by slo burn. The track segues straight into ‘last chance to die young’, a chrome-plated rock ‘n’ roll anthem that advocates an inadvisable lifestyle set against the backdrop of a riff that drips with the sweat of every guitarist that has ever toiled in the name of hard rock. So, just as you think you’ve got the band pegged, they drop the funky shit all over you, with slapped bass, a dark groove and harmonised leads that slither nicely into the hard-cranked riff-fest of the Zeppelin-esque ‘Seven tales told’. An album highlight appears next in the form of the sleek ‘bones’, which adds a dash of female vocals to the mix and a taut, bluesy vibe that sees the lights dim and the solos wail. The first half of the album concludes with ‘heart of stone’, a bluesy number with a country edge that draws on the dusty sound of old-school Guns ‘n’ Roses and cross-pollinates it with the might of Sabbath.
Rolling percussion and howling, steam-kettle feedback great the listener as the band take a somnambulant wander with ‘The dream reaper’, a strange brew of Cream-esque riffing and creeping bass lines. Rather more nimble is the elastic groove of ‘poor man’s grave’, a thunderous blues track that is rapidly overshadowed by the cacophonous drum intro of instrumental track ‘Dutch’ which, with its harmonised leads, recalls the mad jams of mid-70s Sabbath. The taut road-rock of ‘overcome’ sees the band at their heaviest with Luke’s voice swathed in gravel – a potential single there – before the album draws to its close with the suitably epic title track. ‘Quadralith’ is a monster. If you want to find a song that offers as close to a summation of Regulus’ many talents as possible, then this is it. Exploring the light and shade that is found over the course of the album as a whole, Luke’s voice almost takes on a Load-era Hetfield tone whilst the band jam around the central riff, drawing it out in interesting ways before the whole thing collapses in a slew of feedback and noise. It is a brilliant end to a brilliant album and it perfectly captures the band’s fluid riffing and exploratory impulses.
‘Quadralith’ pretty much ticks all the boxes when it comes to blues-infused stoner rock. Unwilling to stick to formula, the band play fast and loose, edging into the blues jam territory of Gov’t Mule one minute, heaving out full-bore metal riffs the next. Their restless spirit makes for interesting listening and provides a refreshing alternative to the endless sea of hard rock bands who seem to think that heavy music begins and ends with Sabbath. With dizzying solos, strong production (although for my tastes the vocals can feel a touch dry at times), and plenty of innovation, Regulus have delivered the album that their live set so tantalizingly promised. Highly recommended. 9