Oh, the rawness of a good stoner-rock vocalist: not the blood-curdling shriek of black metal, not the indistinguishable roar of doom, but a raspy, bloody onslaught of lyrics that people can actually understand. Calgary’s Chron Goblin has one of the best and the band’s massive riffs only intensify the experience.

Life for the Living hits all the right notes for an intense trip through the desert but their songs are far more developed than the average Kyuss wannabe group. Opening track, “Deserter,” makes excellent use of silent rests, giving a tremendous choppiness to the verses. The space-rock intro and full-borne riffing outro both drop tempo from the rest of the song, wringing every chord for all it’s worth before moving to the next. “Lonely Prey” smashes through with a syncopated groove and hard-hitting pentatonic riff. “Big Baby” builds one of the dirtiest dirty-south grooves I have ever heard before breaking into a double-time snake-metal assault that would make Lemmy proud.

Life for the Living features too many unique ideas and clever inversions to simply call it stoner metal. The band has clearly taken great pains to expand the genre without having to leave it entirely. The end result is simply amazing – a record heavy enough to pump blood, clever enough to demand response and drunk enough to party.

By John Julius

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