Album Review: Fumarole – Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes 9 (Stoner Doom)

Written by Dune

Band: Fumarole
Album: Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes
Genre: Stoner Doom
From: Brisbane, Australia
Released: October 17, 2020
Score: 9/10

…Terra Supremia… Year, unknown…. We, a rogue band of Slaves have broken free from the Remote Controllers…They have attempted to control us since enslaving and shipping us to Terra Supremia… The planet is the only source of a specific bacteria that they use to brew an elixir… for immortality… a sore excuse for a life when the elixir deforms you beyond recognition… don’t have much time… the Desert Worms have been attacking more and more frequently… and the Depth Dwellers… we never stand a chance, we’ve lost so many….

Brisbane’s Fumarole have been around since 2018. They dropped the “Mountain” EP in 2018 and have released 3 singles leading up to the ambitious concept album “ Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes”. The album was recorded and mixed by Scott French of Lovestreet Studios, Gold Coast. Mastered by Haldor Grunberg of Satanic Audio in Poland, this is a great sounding album that excellently captures the live prowess of the band and is dripping in classic stoner goodness. Got a light?

No time is wasted on this album. Opener War Cry is a bouncy up tempo rocker, full of thickness, slick jamming and battle ready gang vocals. A mid-way shift hints at slowing down but thankfully turns a trick and keeps propelling the song forward to the last chorus.
Drummer Ryan Stewart opens the track with a quick roll around the kit and a second later Kurt and Dan fuzz things up on guitar and bass. The thing I really enjoyed straight away about Fumarole was that they had a bit more pace and urgency than a lot of other stoner/ doom bands I have been hearing lately. I could just be me but the more rock/ metal tempo is a welcome change. I absolutely loved the warm sound of this recording, I keep thinking of Vol. 4 Sabbath but I also hear some Jimi Hendrix Experience influence too. There are tasteful touches of surf, punk and metal creeping through the drum riffs. Kurt’s thick distorted guitars sit well against a bass sound Geezer Butler would be proud of. Plenty of sick fills, a satisfyingly punchy kick against a live, roomy drum sound backs up the band perfectly and helps to create a cool 70’s sound which is consistently upheld throughout.

On Valley a sleepy, smouldering intro riff leads you into the Valley of the Damned. A straight up rocker pulled along by Ryan’s drumming, with cymbal accents aplenty. Kurt has a strong vocal presence, often adding varying amounts of grit over his thoughtfully worded phrases which are always used to describe The Valley Of Ten Thousand Smokes and its inevitable creatures. His growls brood all through the verses yet shift to sing effectively in unison with the guitar lead line that runs through the chorus. I felt like this song really helped to flesh out the concept of the album.

A lumbering hairy bass line confidently grooves away underneath the rest of the band on Desert Worms. This is really a great platform for Dan Bartsch’ playing to shine, he is able to sit back almost invisibly at times and seems to know exactly where to punctuate Kurt’s riffing or fill out the rhythm section with Ryan. A personal favourite, I loved the predominant instrumental vibes in this song, offset by a lone melodic vocal “ Desert worms, giants waves in the sand,” this kind of song doesn’t get done enough at all. The band takes some time here to just jam things out and explore a few tasty tempo shifts and wah drenched lead breaks, Kurt leeching every last bit of vibrato out of his solo before the band kicks into another well timed tempo shift.

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Mothership is one the best songs on the album, possibly the most single worthy. Great feel, lyrics and chorus. A masterful breakdown with an inevitably sick solo cruises off to into a classic fade out.

Depth Dweller – Fuck yes! Starting with a drum solo, instant win! Chugging through a perfect stoner metal verse which reminds me of Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile but with a Fu Manchu sound and Mastodon’s Leviathan era vocal delivery. Very cool. These guys have worked hard on their song writing over the last few years and it shows. Every song on the album has a consistency but enough variation as to not sound samey.

Terra Supremia – Sick call and answer riff trade between drums and guitar into a slow head spinning solo. An excellent instrumental, carried by the slow grooves of Fumarole in never ending riff mode. Spaced out lead lines wind in and out of this serpentine instrumental, which lulls you into a peaceful state of listening before slapping you back to harsh reality.

Remote Controllers – Kurt’s vocal shines here with a more melodic side that lingers really well over the mid-tempo sludge the band have laid down. The juxtaposition between the cool lead lines is reminiscent of Tool’s Undertow and nicely offset by some awesome double kick blasts. Another sublime bass solo leads to another well executed tempo change jam, fucking love those bits. Last 40 seconds is really strong, Fumarole showing exactly what they are capable of.

Ghost Smoke – Super stoned slow head banging vibes, perfect stoner rock! Vocals are just what you want in this type of groove, a little bit gritty, a little bit melodic. Band captures an excellent live feel but the songs are thoughtfully put together and it is obvious that the Fumarole boys have put in the hard yards at rehearsal. They may have also travelled to other realms? Who knows? This band has great attitude. The ride cymbal lead in to the end of song jam is so clear, you may as well have been in the room. Tasty. Love it.

Enlisting the talents of Steven Yoyada, a heavy lifter in the Stoner Rock album/ band art scene was a great fit for the concept of the album and the style of music. It really adds to the classic vibe and I believe they have made a run of see through green vinyls too. Shoutout to Interstellar Smoke Records and extra points to all involved for attention to detail on the art. I really like seeing bands dive deep like this just because they want to make the best art possible. I do see this being a benefit of the modern music industry at the moment. Although, it seems very different depending on the genre you are looking at.

I’d say if you can’t tell by now what I think of this album then you must have a most excellent strain from your local dealer. You should probably order more and just listen to this beast again… No seriously, it’s a great achievement from Fumarole. There is so much great music being made at the moment and even more coming from right here in the Antipodes. Crank it through your best set of headphones for the best results.

9/10

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