Today’s Halloween album is Higher Time by Electric Citizen, streaming at Bandcamp. One of the few female-fronted heavy psych bands, the Cincinnati group’s 2016 second album is the band’s best and heaviest so far.
It opens with the uneasy gallop of the gloomy, regret-infused opening track, Crux, Andrew Higley’a organ doubling Ross Dolan’s distorted guitar lines, up to a bluesy guitar solo on the way out. If Tony Iommi had stuck with Jethro Tull through Aqualung and had convinced Ian Anderson to take a backseat to a charismatic woman, Devil’s in the Passing Time might have been the result. Likewise, if Blondie and Sabbath had a bastard child, it would be Evil – the Electric Citizen song, that is.
Frontwoman Laura Dolan’s Ozzy-on-oxy vocals float over the galloping fuzztone blast in Ghost up to a a couple of fryolator organ breaks. Likewise, her achingly bluesy bends elevate Golden Mean above the legions of well-intentioned but derivatively riffing Sabbath imitators. The album’s title track blends swirl and crunch through a punishing attack that disintegrates to an echoey haze; a bittersweet guitar solo reignites everything.
Heavy blues riffage fuels Misery Keeper, which the band takes on a doublespeed sprint midway through before drummer Nate Wagner gets some bludgeoning tradeoffs going with the guitar. The band’s frontwoman gets philosophical over the crashing, slow hammering chords of Natural Law: everything is a dialectic, up to the careening chaos of the twin-tracked guitar solo out.
Social Phobia throws a savage riff or two back in the direction of a classic from Sabbath’s first album, anchored by Randy Proctor’s fat, distorted bass; it’s also the point where the guitar finally cuts loose with some supersonic blasts. The album’s final cut is Two Hearted Woman: imagine the early MC5 with a woman out front. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if metal bands would give up the cartoonish pigsnorting for the kind of vocals that Laura Dolan does here? Wouldn’t it be cool if other guitarists took a cue from this band, made their solos count for something and didn’t waste notes?