A transcendent rock record from an unlikely collaboration.
Greg Moffitt 2009-10-21
When this collaboration between Neurosis’ Scott Kelly, Melvins’ Dale Crover, Om’s Al Cisneros and Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich was announced, the weight of expectation could hardly have been greater. After all, considering some of the jewels in their collective discography, who would dare bet against them? Wino alone has blessed the metal world with a string of great albums by The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand and the legendary Saint Vitus. Neurosis and Melvins, meanwhile, have done much throughout their careers to broaden and break down heavy rock’s sometimes rigid boundaries.
All involved would probably hate the term, but Shrinebuilder is nothing short of a supergroup. Supergroups, however, have a nasty habit of underachieving. Think Audioslave, Zwan or even Guns N’ Roses spin-off Velvet Revolver. Shrinebuilder, however, avoids the pitfalls of clashing egos and reveals itself as a truly transcendent rock record.
Their styles may differ, but as guitarists, Scott Kelly and Wino complement each other perfectly. This blend of apocalyptic doom and repetitive, mantra-like space rock sounds like the work of one man. With Cisneros’ bass throbbing ominously below and Crover’s drumming nailing it all to the floor, they could scarcely hope for a better rhythm section.
Clocking in at an average of over seven minutes, these tracks blaze and smoulder in turns, shifting smoothly between the two states with consummate ease. Like some vast force of nature, the four pull together, erecting sheets of guitar noise overlain with howling vocals before melting it all down into sublime, almost pastoral instrumental passages.
When four combustible, competitive musicians are locked in a room for three days with a tape machine rolling, the results are rarely dull. Great things were forecast for this unlikely project and great things have duly been delivered. It might just be a bridge too far to call Shrinebuilder spiritual, but these guys have clearly tapped into forces far greater than themselves.