“Black Sabbath with J-Pop vocals.” These are the words of Toshi Kasai, the producer of the new album by Portland two-piece Fox Medicine.
The resulting subgenre is known as bubblegum doom – because Fox Medicine say so – and the record, Procédures Mystiques, has been compared by singer/guitarist Neezy Dynamite as, “a strawberry milkshake you drink through a dark alley of some creepy fairytale.”
I know what you’re thinking.
It can’t possibly work, can it? It must lean towards one more than the other, mustn’t it? That just isn’t going to sound right, right?
Wrong. Procédures Mystiques is intoxicating and this is why: Dynamite’s voice might be sugary enough to justify the juxtaposition between bubblegum and doom but it also has all the grit, shriek and fiery force required to stand up to the heaviness.
It is, in short, a weird old noise that’s easy to love because it works, not because of its weirdness. And it’s executed beautifully. Vocally, musically – the lot.
The gimmick is just that. It’s the quality that stacks it up.
The opening song, ‘Comfort Pony’, is a hypnotic dirge topped off by Dynamite’s distorted vocals. It belongs in a straight-to-TV early-1990s horror curio.
‘Strawberry Tree’ rattles along in the beginning and then stops dead, switching to a doomy, off-kilter chorus that might be best described as a kind of anti-earworm.
The song seamlessly flips between slow and not, the pacier parts accentuating the meandering chorus riff.
There are no real dips on this record but arguably its peak – arguably because the first song is wonderful – arrives in the form of a three-song run in its second half, beginning with ‘Red Velvet Dreams’.
I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as spooky slacker doom pop-metal. If there is, it’s ‘Red Velvet Dreams’ – and it’s fantastic. Deliberately jarring and disjointed, but fantastic.
The satisfying groove of the excellent ‘Chester Milktoast’ is offset by a vocal full of spite and cynicism, before ‘Sympathy For The Prey’ takes over and casually chucks in the record’s thickest, fuzziest, crunchiest chorus.
Indeed, Procédures Mystiques does an awful lot in nine songs. It’s got infectious, fuzzy riffs that can’t be ignored. It draws you in, spits you out and leaves you wondering what the fuck you just heard.
And who could ask for more than that?
Procédures Mystiques will be released on 8th November on Night Nurse Records.