Brooklyn psychedelic warriors Naam meld the unpredictability of a bad mushroom trip with total control of musical mastery on their second album, Vow. Their take on what they label "modern psychedelia" is a dark, sometimes gruesome one, but one so studied and deliberate that, even at its most wild and raging, the band has every element of its songs reined in perfectly. Dipping toes in biker rock, elements of prog, and even a more groove-heavy version of drone and shoegaze, the tracks on Vow melt into each other organically for the most part. The title track that begins the album falls somewhere between Black Sabbath's moments of lurching funk and the strung-out repetition of Spacemen 3. For a lot of heavier bands, it's a fine line between Black Sabbath and Monster Magnet, and Naam always stay on the more purposeful, less cartoonish Sabbath side of things, keeping things evil with heavy bashing rockers like "Midnight Glow" and getting into the ominous spectral trippiness of something like "Planet Caravan" on the mellower but equally terror-filled "Skyscraper." The group isn't strictly influenced by early metal, though. Traces of atmospheric soundtrack work come through on the slowed-down drums and subliminal voices of interlude "In and Thru," evoking the work of Goblin on Dario Argento's classic horror soundtracks. Vocalist Ryan Lee Lugar has the same blown-out rasp in his voice as Mudhoney's Mark Arm, injecting just a touch of grunge into the fuzzy guitars and bitter organ wailing. Not surprising from a band that once released a 7" of Nirvana covers. Between the doomy moods and powerful riffing, Naam carve out a sound that stands apart from any number of their lazier psych rock contemporaries, with just the right combination of spaced out and sharply focused.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas