NOSTALGIA ALERT!! I know, I know... I know the whole point of this 'doom resurgence' is a wholesale rejection of modern production mores and of an all-embracing acceptance of trad values.
But it has to be said (and if it doesn't I'm saying it anyway) that the current proliferation of bands trying to sound like classic Ozzy-era Sabbath is really pushing the credibility of 'the doom scene' dangerously close to exhaustion point.
Ogre, natives of the wonderful state of Maine in the US, at least have the excuse of not using this as some sort of exercise in bandwagon jumping. They've been at this lark since 1999, when bands like sHeavy were laying the foundations of this whole neoDoom renaissance; So they at least have some roots and form – doom is their business, etc etc...
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And business on 'The Last Neanderthal' would appear to be pretty good. Booming in fact, if the superior guitar tones coming out of axemaster Ross Markonish's amps are anything to go by.
It's a classic three piece instrumental format, of course – what was good enough for Tone, Geezer and Bill obviously works for Ogre, and why not?
The Ogre way is a simple formula that relies on the three constituent parts working fluidly as one, and throughout... Neanderthal Markonish and his cohorts Ed Cunningham and Will Broadbent (bass and drums respectively) are never less than tight as the proverbial. When everything clicks, as it does on the thunderous and aptly named Warpath, the effect is crushingly irresistible, and you can tell that this is a unit that means business.
They have the confidence to change things up a little, too, with the neat little instrumental 'White Plume Mountain' carrying the whiff of the Ozarks and nefarious mountain business being undertaken under cover of darkness. It breaks up the sludge nicely, and sets up album closer, the eleven minute epic 'The Hermit', extremely well, whilst their cover of forgotten seventies nugget 'Soulless Woman' (apparently recorded by another – long lost – outfit by the name of Ogre) is a jaunty take on the sort of proto pop Metal Sabbath themselves were churning out circa 1976.
It's a welcome, light hearted blast of – and here's that word again – nostalgia, but it serves well to take the mind off slightly more worthy but uninspired material like 'Bad Trip' and 'Son Of Sisyphus', which do tend to weigh the album down a little in the middle.
Not an unqualified success then, and Cunningham's Osbourne-worshipping howl does become a little grating at times, but overall if you're in the market for some uncomplicated, honest to goodness riffage then you could do a lot worse than 'The Last Neanderthal'. Worth a punt.