MARCH 10th 2017
LO-PAN: IN TENSIONS
Review by Darin Wall
Sometimes when writing music reviews, you get assigned something that doesn't necessarily suit your tastes, and your job becomes to put that aside and objectively review the music based on what it is and the quality of it.
Other times, like right now, you get assigned something by a band you love, in a genre that is right in your wheelhouse. Admittedly, I am a huge Lo-Pan fan. I have been following this band ever since their debut self titled EP way back in 2006. So it’s with great excitement that I got tasked to dig into their latest release which is titled In Tensions.
If you aren't familiar with this band, they played groove laden heavy rock, often classified with the desert/stoner rock crowd, a classification I wholeheartedly agree with. They write with a healthy mix of Kyuss, Tool, Soundgarden and a plethora of other influences, all the while being able to blend them into a sound distinctly their own. The production on this album is outstanding. It’s thick and fuzzy, with a nice glossy polish over it while being raw enough to not sound over produced. Go West is the first track off of the album and they don’t hold back out of the gate. The song starts with a half time build up riff underneath a very memorable vocal hook. The rhythms switch around nicely lending lots of dynamics to the song, building up to crescendos and then dropping down again. The layered harmonized vocals in the chorus are awesome, and the band picks the pace up to a driving tempo to end the song. This is bound to be a staple in their live set for years. Sink Or Swim follows in a similar vein. Lots of big grooves and dynamic switches, again all with stellar vocals soaring over them. Long Live the King starts up with a fuzzy bass riff and kicks into a very bless feel. The chorus to this one is massive and will be a definite crowd pleaser live. Alexis has a bit more of a laid back mellow feel than the other tracks and sees vocalist Jeff Martin extending his vocals to a higher range. This track harkens back the the “Loud Love” era of Soundgarden to my ears. The last song we are presented with is Pathfinder which has a really trip mellow intro to start with and some great crooning by Martin. Everything builds to the 3:25 mark where the drummer hits the gas pedal and everything drives forward. The riff here is very catchy and memorable as are the vocals. A trip guitar solo follows which is accompanied by some damn fine bass and drum work, with everything building to a massive crescendo to end the song and the album.
In my opinion Lo-Pan are one of the most underrated desert/stoner rock bands going today. The band all are proficient musicians, and singer Jeff Martin is one of the better singers in the genre in my opinion. They have an impressive discography to their credit already, and the material on this album is as good and at times better than anything they have previously released. If you like this band, or if you like this type of music, get this album now!!!