Featuring two Swedish “stoner” rock bands, this split CD from Alone Records and released in the US by Custom Heavy Records allows the two bands to entice potential listeners with four tracks apiece. Both bands are ultra-heavy, sludge and stoner oriented bands and this CD does in fact give a fairly good overview of each band’s particular style.
Generous Maria offers four remastered songs from a demo released a couple years earlier in their career. Their sound is lively, heavy and occasionally strays into that exotic grunge best characterized by Soundgarden. Generous Maria’s singer has an evocative voice that seldom ranges very high, but places high emphasis on emotive delivery. The guitars are both exceptionally thick and sludgey, yet coherent and capable of expressing more than just lumbering weight. Moreover, the riffing is straight out of the Black Sabbath school of simple but devastatingly effective writing. While Generous Maria’s contributions are not the type to floor any listeners, their songwriting is very strong and they warrant pay some attention to in the future.
On their four songs, Skua brings down the CD somewhat with their densely packed and clustered fuzz-sludge. The production is squashed, taking much of the power the songs need to be effective. The vocals are hidden under layers of muck and the wavering voice never sounds completely convincing. “Blue Temple” appears to have come from a different recording session as the guitars suddenly shed their swaddling, encumbersome restraints and breathe more life into the music. On a whole, Skua sounds like they may have potential but need to refine their delivery to become something more than a Kyuss inspired second tier band.
If nothing else, this split CD has shown there’s yet one more viable band in the “stoner” rock scene (now there’s a term I rather dislike, but it seems as though everyone knows what “stoner” rock refers to) in Generous Maria. Hopefully they’ll have a full length out before long that’ll build on their strengths. As for Skua, perhaps experience will help strengthen them as well.
Review by John Chedsey