Early Man

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Early Man Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

Just why Champaign, IL-based Tummler even bothers with vocals is a confounding mystery -- these guys were clearly born to be an instrumental group. Frontman Brad Buldak's indistinct, throaty grunts generally waver between distraction and detraction, and are buried so far down in the mix of thundering guitars and drums exploding out of their otherwise top-notch second album, Early Man, that really, what's the point? This particular gripe aside, there really is much to love in Tummler's colossal space rock/doom metal hybrid, which proves itself equally adept at pounding out concentrated nuggets of sludge, as heard on the enigmatically named "Arlo" and the lone instrumental, "Here's to Your Destruction," as it is at unleashing monolithic epics like the 11-minute "Planet Moai." Fans of heavy bong-hitters such as Kyuss and Nebula will both recognize and delight in the sheer detuned heavy-osity contained in opener "Shooting Blanks," which is also cleverly sprinkled with minor-key guitar nuances for added dynamic effect. The same can be said for the driving, rumbling highlight that is "Freightliner," the closest Tummler comes to creating a stripped-down, conventional rock & roll song. [Note to collectors: Initial pressings of Early Man contain two uncredited bonus tracks cut by Tummler's earlier lineup, including a cover of Saint Vitus' "War Is Our Destiny."]

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