Mothership – High Strangeness

Mothership, out of Dallas, TX, claim a lot of ‘70s hard rock as influences while making one of the more interesting styles of stoner-space rock. The opening and title track of the album sounds more like a mashup of Monster Magnet and Explosions in the Sky than it does, say UFO or Black Sabbath. That said, the second track, “Ride the Sun,” on their third album, High Strangeness, lands squarely in that wheelhouse. One can also hear elements of Kyuss in the noise Mothership bring and it’s easy to see why they have become a favorite in their local scene and are now getting out on their own headlining tour. Just two songs in and they show a surprising range when they create a positively Iron Maiden-esque break around the 2:45 mark before locking down into a half-time groove to wind down the song.

“Midnight Express” feels more like one of the Sword’s songs and the vocals aren’t the strongest of the record. That said, the track does close on a higher note with a nice riff and jammy solo over the top escalating into the band, once again locked in, and powerfully heading into the next track.

Forgive me for hearing just a little bit of “Barracuda” in the opening riff of “Crown of Lies.” Overall, the track invokes Trouble rather heavily in a not bad way. The penchant of the band to raise the tempo and riffage in the latter stages of their songs is a nice touch that shouldn’t wear thin. One of the biggest problems bands in the stoner-doom category face is keeping their music sonically interesting over the course of generally longer, slower material. Mothership choose to play a little more loosely with tempos and it works well for them.

“Helter Skelter” sounds ripped straight from the Blues for the Red Sun sessions. So much so that it invokes that album’s “hit” “Green Machine.” This band isn’t about hiding their influences but, rather, celebrating them, so this isn’t a damning assessment but instead puts this track on par with its forebears.

“Eternal Trip” is the spaciest of their rock on High Strangeness and its placement in the album’s sequence is brilliant as a break in the overall pace and sonic assault. The band do an interesting thing with a riff that isn’t too many degrees of separation away from “Nothing Else Matters.” Positioned here it provides a meditative backdrop to absorb the overall experience of the music to this point and likely kills live.

“Wise Man” throws us back into the fray with a stomping fuzzed out guitar and bass line. The solo at the 1:15 mark is interesting for adding a layer of Lynyrd Skynyrd into the mix and pairs well with a solo around 2:05 that feels like a more aggressive Allman Brothers-style trade-off.

“Speed Dealer” announces itself with more of that fuzzed out stomping groove and, while it isn’t exactly high literature lyrically, the vocals make up for it in the conviction of the delivery. Dropping into half-time almost 3:00 into the song is a  nice touch. Waiting on first listen to this to see if the band would delve into their entire oeuvre over the course of their 6:33 finale it was nice to hear them choose that option. Sometimes “summary” tracks like this don’t go well for bands with versatile styles but Mothership executes it very well.

Bottom-line: are you stoned? Then listen to Mothership.

Dallas, Texas heavy rock band Mothership will release its new album, High Strangeness, on March 17, 2017 via Ripple Music. You can pre-order it here.