Sons of Otis

X

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Some cynical pundits would argue that Sons of Otis' albums have long served little purpose other than to pay the bills between live performances, where, with the help of spinning lights and billowing dry ice smoke, the trio's sludgy space/stoner/psych/doom metal always comes across significantly more powerful than has ever been heard on plastic. But, having said that, one must admit that 2005's Billy Anderson-produced X (so named for commemorating the band's first decade of activity) and its wealth of far more focused and infinitesimally more coherent offerings (see quintessential Otis fare like "Way I Feel," "Relapse," "1303" and "Help Me"), clearly improves upon 2001's disappointing and unbelievably turgid Songs for Worship album. As always, we're talking cosmic nod music of the nearly intractable kind here; echo-swamped vocals and drums wafting through the repetitive drone unleashed by guitar and bass mainstays Ken Bluke and Frank Sargeant, as they regularly defy conventional rock attention spans and redefine listening habits. In either regard, their idiosyncratic methods are guaranteed to thrill and bore to tears equal measures of lovers and haters, yet are always uniquely and unmistakably Otis. In fact, the album's only noticeable deviation from the pre-established norm arrives via a cover of Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" (previously committed in a slightly different version to 2002's vinyl 10" of the same name) which is as bluesy as the band can get. And, to prove that they like what they like and you can really just take it or leave it, X wraps up with a couple of reeeaaally long, molten acid-jams in the nebulous shape of ten-minute feedback orchestration "Eclipse," and the -- get this -- fourteen-minute instrumental "Liquid Jam." Not for the weak of spirit, in other words, X will nevertheless mark the spot for dedicated Sons of Otis devotees.

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