Thulsa Doom is the legendary evil dude in stories by Robert E. Howard. James Earl Jones played him in the ‘Conan The Barbarian’ movie, with the most ridiculous bowl cut ever. He could turn himself into a bloody big snake, make a follower jump to her death just by beckoning her… but couldn’t get a decent hair cut! Thulsa Doom is also the name of a Norwegian stoner rock band. They’re back with their first album in over a decade, and the stoner sound has gradually evaporated into a warm and varied vibe. In places Thin Lizzy, in others Rage Against The Machine, with Doobie Brothers harmonies… all with a wicked sense of humour and tongues firmly in cheeks.
Opener, ‘Lady Nina’, is so far steeped in Thin Lizzy folklore, that you are half expecting vocalist Papa Doom to ask the immortal question, “Does anyone have any ‘Oirish in them?”. It’s a fun and uplifting few minutes that get the feet tapping and raises a few chuckles with the wry lyrics. This gives way to ‘Eloquent Profanity’, which begins with Rage Against The Machine-style angst, before producing a sublime left turn with some gorgeous layered harmonies. There are so many twists and turns during these five minutes, including one Tom Araya scream, and the best use of Band Aid lyrics ever (Tonight thank god it’s them instead of you), which sounds incredible with the lush vocal harmonies. This is a fun album that doesn’t play by the rules. The different elements shouldn’t work side by side, but Thulsa Doom make it sound natural. ‘Shadows On The X-Rays’ has a massive fat bass sound as an intro, and just as you feel that you are getting the hang of it, the rug is pulled out from under your feet and they totally change direction. I think it was the line about keeping his elephants in line that had me rewinding, just to check. The guitar solo mid-song is all too short, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in girth…sorry, I couldn’t resist that one, blame the Thulsa Doom effect! The band change it up again with a Doors-vibe during the intro to ‘Bag Of Fries’. Lyrically, it’s cuckoo… mad as a bag of frogs… but effective in still rattling around the listener’s head for some time after. It’s the same with ‘Magazine’… you’ll be humming the ridiculously catchy chorus just as much as you’ll be playing the air guitar to the monumentous riffing. This is an album big on riffs.
‘A Keen Eye For The Obvious’ is a head-fuck of an album, but in the good way, only in the good way.
Available now. More information here.