Though you might not have heard of them, this California desert trio has a pretty impressive stoner/doom pedigree. Atala‘s self-titled debut, which came out in 2014, was recorded by Scott Reeder, while this follow-up effort was engineered by Billy Anderson. They’re even booked to pay this year’s edition of Maryland Doomfest—the other MDF—so even though I was previously unfamiliar with their work, I felt compelled to check this one out.
What we’ve got here with Shaman’s Path of the Serpent is almost more of an EP, four tracks spanning just less than 32 minutes. “Gravity” starts us off, a 10-minute tune that takes a little while to get rolling, much more desert than space rock. Hell, the first name that comes to mind here is defunct local outfit Luz Atomica, though I’d say Atala is considerably more bass-heavy. I suppose there’s probably more of a post-sludge vibe lurking beneath their desert plains as well.
“Levity” hits with a big, heavy riff right off the bat, before dropping off into a much mellower groove. The soaring vocals kick in right with another rolling riff barrage, this one more closely resembling the cosmic doom of Sons of OTIS. I really dig the stop-start riffs that first kick in around the two-minute mark, reminding me more of Black Pyramid or even The Gates of Slumber. This mid-paced verse effectively trades off with a slow ‘n heavy chorus, giving us the best of both worlds—which aren’t exactly worlds apart, mind you.
“King Soloman” has a spacey, meandering vibe not unlike the excellent Boston outfit Blue Aside, with a super-heavy chorus that hits like a ton of bricks. And at five-and-a-half minutes, it’s relatively compact. And that brings us to “Shapeshifter,” a crunchy space-rock number that’s not without its share of mellow moments wrapped up within its plodding, punchy riffage. Overall, this is a pretty decent package.