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U.S. Christmas: Salt The Wound

Salt The Wound by U.S. Christmas is an album viewed as a milestone in the formation of the stoner rock underground - a cult classic if you like. Originally released in 2005, Salt The Wound has been released and re-released with a variety of track listings, although this version from HCB Records appears to have restored the original track listing and done away with some of the other tracks that have at one point or another featured.

There are a number of things which strike you about this album, that after a few spins become more and more obvious, some good, some not so and as with many cult classics, it is both easy to see why Salt The Wound is held in such high regard, while at the same time stubbornly refusing to fully earn the acclaim that is bestowed upon it. So let's start with the good - there's plenty of it - U.S. Christmas were pretty unique, not original mind, but unique. The heavy use of theremin on the album offering up an alternate take on an otherwise widely used blueprint that strongly references Hawkwind, and their ilk, while also nodding heavily at nearly all of the out and out stoner rock legions. Things never slump into copy-cat territory, a compliment in itself in this genre, but then neither could you ever pretend that you've not heard this sort of stuff done countless time before, although not always so convincingly. However - and here's the, well bad is overplaying it - so let's go with down side, Salt The Wound is blatantly disjointed, sounding more like a collection of recordings brought together as a compilation, with sections of the album offering up a new aspect, before moving onto the next idea. The opening pair of "Lazarus" and "Death By Horses" are both full on space rock, sparse in construction, astral in outlook, while "New War" and "Devil's Flower" add a hefty boot in the rear, the former with furious guitars and strangulated vocals, the latter through a stinging melody lines that sears and soars in equal measure. Before "Thin The Herd" comes on all traditional metal in a more upbeat Sabbathy manner. Nothing wrong with any of that, but the recordings are a little uneven, hiss in the background, some instruments struggling to the surface, giving an almost well recorded demo feel. Although I suppose there is a thin line between remastering, as this disc has been and losing the character that set it apart in the first place.

Then comes the more unsettling "Norpo", which almost collapses under its own sparseness, "Queen Of The World", which comes on like Husker Du attacking Bauhaus at a stoner rocker's space party and the immensely satisfying closing of "Black Snake", a song that grooves with intensity. Making for an album that is intoxicating and encapsulating, if not 100% convincing.

If you are a stoner aficionado and don't already have Salt In The Wound, you NEED this album. The rest of us will be amazed by some of what is on show and underwhelmed by the rest of it. A real case of try before you buy - although you may be pleasantly surprised.


Track Listing
1. Lazarus
2. Death by Horses
3. New War
4. Devil's Flower
5. Thin the Herd
6. Norpo
7. Queen of the World
8. Black Snake

Added: September 2nd 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: HCB Records
Hits: 1640
Language: english

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