May 7, 2014

The Shrine - Bless Off

Written by Matt Hinch.

Cover by Kris Kirk

Not enough of what I listen to would be considered "fun". Black metal's not fun. Doom's not fun. Death metal's not usually fun. But you know what is fun? A motherlovin' fuckload of fun? Bless Off, the newest from California trio The Shrine.

Following the success of their debut (Primitive Blast) they've gotten even better. Bless Off is still as energetic but perhaps a little less punky. Don't worry, they're still holding on to their love of Black Flag. In fact, "The Duke" features lyrics written by Chuck Dukowski himself for an unreleased Black Flag tune. I'm no Black Flag expert but The Shrine share the same sort of groovy pulse with a bit of swing.

The other side of The Shrine's chosen path is Black Sabbath. No, they're not drudging the depths of doom but you can find Sabbathisms throughout. Bassist Courtland Murphy's style reminds me a lot of Geezer. "Hellride" is pretty doomy during the solo and if the riffs that open and close "Nothing Forever" aren't unabashed Sabbath worship I don't know what is.

Bless Off, (and The Shrine in general) is sickly infectious riff rock pulling from '70s garage rock, the aforementioned Blacks and a healthy dose of sun-baked stoner rock. Their solar powered groove machine bears a lot of similarities vibe-wise with former tour mates Fu Manchu. But instead of cruisin' the highway in a Chevy van adorned with airbrushed boobies, The Shrine are carving empty pools like the skate punks they are. Forget the soundtrack for Lords of Dogtown, you just need this.

Vocalist/guitarist Josh Landau plays fuzzy, fast and loose with scorched, bluesy solos. His simple lyrical approach and straightforward song structures are quite refreshing and far too easy to get behind. Many sing-alongs with his punk-infused snarl and holler ("Tripping Corpse", "Destroyers", "On The Grind") and much air guitaring are to be had.

Holding down the drum throne is Jeff Murray. Although I figure he bounces off of it a fair bit. His hard-hitting Animal-esque style is pure energy but not without a little flair. And cowbell (More cowbell!). When I'm pounding through the floorboards in time with his kicks and otherwise not using my hands for driving, my ride magically transforms into a VW Thing with the top down, a "trunk" full of beers and a glove box reeking of pot. It's fucking party time, dude!

Bless Off is gritty, amped as shit and so catchy it's ridiculous. It bangs harder than a dorm room bedpost on a Saturday night. Heshers and punks unite! Grab your boards, beers, and bongs and hang on for the party of the year. If this doesn't get you hard, well you can just Bless Off!

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. A VW Thing? Sometimes I worry about you, man.

    Because I've never entertained the thought of buying a VW Thing and then dropping a big block in it to make the weirdest sleeper car possible. Never ever have I though that.

    Would a big block fit in a Thing? Damn it, me. Don't go research this, don't go research this....

  2. I anxiously await the results of your research. My brother had a little Isuzu truck with the 350 from a Corvette dropped in it. That puppy could move!