[28 March 2007]
Every year in September, the town of Sante Fe burns a 50-foot high puppet called Zozobra as the kick-off to its Fiestas de Santa Fe. Zozobra is sometimes translated as “Old Man Gloom” which, coincidentally, is also the name of Caleb Scofield and Santos Montano’s last band (Scofield also played bass in the Cave-In). You could look at Harmonic Tremors, then, as a gleeful demolition, by fire and by volume, of the old band… or indeed of anything else that gets in the way. This is a monstrously loud, utterly enjoyable slab of melodic metal that parties harder than big power chord anthems, sliced through the middle with shredded throat howls, but sluiced over with droning stoner rock harmonies. Even the hardest-assed cuts—“Soon to Follow” and “Kill and Crush”, for instance—have a sort of tunefulness poking through the sludgy riffs and apocalyptic vocals, and cuts like “The Vast Expense” and opener “The Blessing” are downright pop-leaning. But it’s the clattering, slow-marching instrumental “Caldera” that burns the whole house down, with a desert-shimmering grandeur that will remind you a little of Kyuss. Closer “A Distant Star Fades” rides a fractious, machine gun drum beat over wind-blasted landscapes of voice and guitar, epic but accessible even to beginners.