In the 13 years since their first record came out on Tolotta Records (the label run by former Fugazi bassist Joe Lally) a lot’s changed for Dead Meadow. The Washington DC band’s Peel Session was the first ever recorded outside the BBC, and world tours, six albums (two live, four studio) have not lessened their debut’s clout.
From the sublimely daring opener Sleepy Silver Door (with its Eastern, drone-inspired single-note refrain) to grandiose tracks like Beyond The Fields We Know, there’s something beguiling and compelling about Dead Meadow. The latter track manages to take their rich, blues-heavy Black Sabbath moments and a swirling 70s psych breakdown all in its stride, creating something that’s a fantastically easy listen given its occasional virtuosity.
Like Led Zeppelin at their peak, there’s a kind of ecstatic, classic rock kitsch to their sound. They might lack the polish of successors like Sleepy Sun, but it’s hard to imagine what could make for a more fluid, chemical listen than, say, Rocky Mountain High.
The riffs come on thick, with groove and swagger, but Jason Simon’s shamanic, reverb-laden vocal takes their huge, earthy riffs and makes them thrillingly otherworldly.