Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ultra Review: Double Shot Day!

SHEAVY: Moons In Penumbra

    I thought that Sheavy had run its course.  No updates to the website in a couple of years, no news.  Then in December I saw on the band’s website that “Moons In Penumbra” was available (first on cassette?! and then on CD), and I felt like Christmas had come early.  I ordered the album from the record store in Newfoundland as directed on the website.  Sheavy is one of those bands where I need to own the physical copy of each album.  Not only do I want to be able to show off my Sheavy collection to my friends, I truly want this band to have my money.  They have fans around the globe, yet are so small-time that bad weather delays CD shipments, and a brand new album comes out only on cassette!
     Now about the album.  On first listen I was completely underwhelmed.  When I heard “The Machine That Won The War”, and “Republic?” the first time, those albums blew me away immediately and continued to blow me away listen after listen.  “Moons In Penumbra” was nothing like these.  I thought it was slow and unimaginative.  I had expectations but they were unfulfilled.  I told my friends who love Sheavy how disappointed I was. 
     I have had albums that “crept up on me” before, so I didn’t give up on the album.  Sheavy is one of my all-time favorite bands after all.  I added Moons In Penumbra to my weekly playlist, shuffled in with a bunch of other albums and listened to it with volume and high quality speakers.  I find this a particularly great way to explore an album.  When a song comes up in a shuffled mix, it can catch you off-guard, and enter your realm of perception through the back door.  This allowed me to hear each tune without my preconceived expectations for what Sheavy should sound like.  I should have known that Sheavy would not put out a sub-standard album.  Moons In Penumbra is less about the riff, and more melodic than I had expected.  Steve Hennessey’s vocals are flawless on this album.  Evan Chalker’s guitar playing is subtly heavy and melodic at the same time.  The album’s production quality is excellent.  I have continued to include Moons In Penumbra to my weekly playlist week after week, and appreciate it more and more as time goes by.
    Final assessment:  If you love Sheavy you must own this one, just like you needed to own every other one.  Moons In Penumbra will not be what you expect, but give it a chance and appreciate the fact that Steve Hennessey has managed to surround himself with great musicians album after album.  I’m not sure where Moons In Penumbra ranks in the grand scheme of things for me;  it is not my favorite Sheavy album, but it is of very high quality and it’s new Sheavy, which means it’s going to keep getting lots of plays.

Steve Hennessey - vocals
Evan Chaulker - guitar
Jason Williams - drums
Glenn Tizzard - bass

Self-Titled Album

     Awesome.  Non-stop, unadulterated ass-kicking from beginning to end.  This album really made me appreciate how bad-ass Ed Mundell really is.  I have always loved Monster Magnet and each of the Ed Mundell Atomic Bitchwax albums, but still didn’t realize what a great song writer and how versatile he is.  This album is entirely instrumental, with the occasional sound-bite.  It is like a Karma to Burn album without any awkward moments.  There is a nice variety of up-tempo jams and mood music, with Ed tearing it up the whole time.  If you are having friends over, try leading off a playlist with “Exploration Team”; you’ll hear a lot of “this is awesome – who’s this?”  “The Third Eye” is an eleven and a half minute masterpiece that keeps evolving without getting monotonous.  There is even an updated version of “Hello To Oblivion”, a track from the popular “High Volume: The Stoner Rock Collection” released by High Times records back in 2004.  There was a lot of attention to detail in the recording of this album, and it deserves volume and a set of high quality speakers to be played through.  Enjoy! 

psychedelic guitar from Ed Mundell, (Monster Magnet, The Atomic Bitchwax).
Members include Rick Ferrante (Sasquatch), Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan, Otep)

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