Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Quest For Fire‘s music may fall under the “stoner rock” umbrella, but don’t mistake them for some pornstached blockheads with a penchant for poor man’s Sabbath riffs and lyrics about chicks and vans. While the Toronto quartet take their blues with extra fuzz and fog, they’re also of a mind to include sizable dollops of spunky garage grit and meandering psychedelia, as demonstrated on their 2008 eponymous debut. Their sophomore album, Lights From Paradise (out now via their new American label Tee Pee), stretches the parameters of their subgenre even further, incorporating meditative passages and (gulp!) orchestral elements into the mix. Bongzilla this is not.
The record kicks off with “The Greatest Hits By God,” eight minutes of crawling drone, dramatic violins, and spacey vocals that unravel like the opening scene of some Edward Zwick–directed war epic. String duties here are courtesy of Thee Silver Mt. Zion’s Sophie Trudeau, who singer/guitarist Chad Ross and drummer Mike Maxymuik met while touring North America and Europe as the backing band for Pink Mountaintops. Consequentially, “Psychic Seasons” sounds much like a Mountaintops tune—all folksy acoustic strums, pastoral fiddles, festive tambourines, and hushed harmonies. For stoner rock, this is pretty (ahem) high brow stuff.
Though these departures indicate an exploratory future for Quest For Fire, on Lights, they merely provide breathing space between the band’s signature bottom-end blitzkrieg. Emerging from the ruins of acts as disparate as garage rockers The Deadly Snakes, perv-punkers No No Zero, and hardcore wreckers Cursed, these guys traverse several strains of scuzz, from the propulsive blues-punk of “Set Out Alone” to the pummeling psych of “In The Place Of A Storm” (streaming above). But it’s on ’70s-fetishizing slow-burners like “Confusion’s Home,” when dreamy melodies get wrapped in heavy blankets of impenetrable fuzz, warbly keys, and fingerpicked guitars, that Quest are at their most staggeringly hypnotic. Don’t act surprised if, at some point while listening to this, you’re suddenly thrown into a mystical trance state and, after the miasmic crash-endoes and multiple climaxes of nine-minute closer “Sessions of Light,” you snap out of it all slack-jawed and teary-eyed with dribble on your chin. Benny Hinn, eat your heart out.