Last year Toronto’s Olde won the hearts of millions with debut LP, I. OK, that’s a lie. But their sludgy doom was nonetheless impressive to say the least, beating as many grooves into your cauliflower-ed ears as were pressed onto the wax. To keep concussed brains aware of their presence before a 2017 LP on STB Records, the boys (Doug McLarty (Jaww) – vocals, Greg Dawson (Cunter, Grift) and Chris Hughes (Moneen) – guitars, Ryan Aubin (Sons of Otis) – drums, and Cory McCallum (Five Knuckle Chuckle) – bass) fire a warning shot EP in the form of Shallow Graves, featuring three new tracks and a cover tune no one will scoff at.
Opener “Absurd Conditions” crawls with slow, dirgy doom riffs laced with psychedelia. Swagger meets neck-snapping groove as it kicks into a bluesier southern sludge section. The Electric Wizard/Goya-sized heaviness and haze would hypnotize the listener if not for McLarty’s ogre bellows. Simple riffs hammer down for maximum impact backed by killer tone and percussion that cannot be ignored.
“Endless” keeps things going with lots of fuzz covering the toe-tapping, slo-burning riffs that snarl as maliciously as they can. “The Turning” rises up to a different plane of existence. It’s faster to start; bullying, rumbling and rolling with the kind of unstoppable momentum that High of Fire has mastered. However Olde’s fretboard movement feels more like some of their Western Canadian brothers-in-doom, in particular Bison B.C., with a melodic approach circling around to open the can of whoop-ass.
As for that cover song, Olde take on the bluesy burn of Motörhead‘s “Limb from Limb” and do a bang up job of it! McLarty’s gravelled throat matches up perfectly with the band’s take on the track. The way they’ve made the track their own, yet there’s no mistaking it’s Motörhead (if you know the song), means it slides right into the track list like it was meant to be there.
As an EP Shallow Graves is just a tease but you take what you can get, especially when it kicks your ass the way it does. There’s a lot going on in the Toronto scene but if you want muscular riffs, stoner grooves and the weight of doom from the Big Smoke, you won’t do better than Olde. The best thing to do is just listen.