Thulsa Doom

...And Then Take You to a Place Where Jars Are Kept

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With its year 2000 debut, The Seats Are Soft But the Helmet Is Way Too Tight, Norway's Thulsa Doom quietly concocted a stoner/doom classic to start off the 21st century, paving the way for 2003's subsequent And Then Take You to a Place Where Jars Are Kept to be pegged as the band's inevitable "difficult" follow-up. But in fact, "surprising" is the more appropriate term for what amounts to another very strong outing for the Scandinavian quintet. Simply put, Jars is a pop record disguised as stoner rock in much the same way that Seats was a pure hard rock record disguised as doom metal. In both instances, appearances can be deceiving and first listens confusing, but the undeniable long-term realization is that truly infectious tunes lie at the heart of Thulsa Doom's special formula. At their best, tracks like "How Hard Can It Be," the morose ballad "Shot By Both Sides," and the glorious insta-single "Kick Me" strike an unnerving balance between awesome pop hooks and dreadful despair -- all of it conveyed with utmost conviction by expressive frontman Papa Doom. A crucial element of the band's formula, his charismatic delivery and often hilarious lyrics aren't always as spot-on here as they were on previous efforts, being occasionally crowded by shrill backing vocals and coming off a little forced on otherwise stormingly fun cuts like "Why Do You Keep On (Watching the Porno) After You Came" and "Got to Have Mine," but his is still, without question, the best stoner rock voice spawned this side of Kyuss' John Garcia. "Generation 71," "Machine of Oslo," and "Learn from TV" (the latter quoting the first album's head-banging centerpiece, "Ride the Pony," with its outro riff) boast remarkably straightforward, anthemic choruses to go with their humongous grooves, but it's nine-minute closer "Papa Doom Preach (Where Jars Are Kept)" that comes as close to outright doom metal (at least in Thulsa Doom's very broad definition of the style) as anything here, its quietly drawn-out middle section book-ended by monstrously heavy, grinding riffs. All in all, Jars represents another stellar outing for this underappreciated but promising group.

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