Pagan Fruit

Written by: AP on 24/12/2014 18:03:30

In the biography that accompanies Dwellers’ sophomore album “Pagan Fruit”, the Salt Lake City, UT based blues rockers proudly claim during its creation, any song that took longer than a single practice to rough out from start to finish was discarded. It’s a bold statement and, if true, promises a truly organic method of song writing; the sort of jammy approach that tends to lend these vintage styles of heavy rock a distinctly human touch not yet obscured by meticulous production. This is an especially important quality of the blues infusing niche, where weeping solo guitars, smooth introspective basslines and weary rhythms form the pillars upon which the songs rest.

But unlike some of their closest kin (among them the Danish Pet the Preacher), there is a pressing need for impact here to engage the listener. For the duration of the first five tracks, Dwellers show no signs of escape from a gloomy mist of sullenly resonating melodies and graveyard tempo as they spell it out that on “Pagan Fruit”, the predominant element is blues, rather than hard hitting rock. Vocalist/guitarist Joey Toscano’s introspection, both by way of his smoky voice and his endlessly imaginative six string work, is a pleasure to listen to on songs like “Totem Crawler” and “Return to the Sky”, which both send my thoughts dancing toward the prowess of the ‘Preacher’s Christian Hede Madsen; while the fuzzy, neck wide noodling of bassist Dave Jones and the leisurely drumming of Zach Hatsis complete this image of some gruff Southerner sitting on the porch of his rundown home, clutching a bottle of bourbon and reminiscing about days gone by.

It’s hazy, downcast stuff, and while there are segments in these five songs to ‘awaken’ the listener from his/her muted dream, it isn’t until Toscano blows out a harmonica melody to signal the beginning of the much more upbeat heavy rock piece “Devoured by Lions” that any semblance of variety emerges. Together with strutting “Waiting on Winter”, the track offers the only respite for people looking to be shaken by a bit of immediacy before the colossal “Call of the Hallowed Horn” concludes the proceedings like a marriage of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, Hammond organ, female opera singing and all.

It seems unfair to flaunt Dwellers, for their delivery of the chosen style contains virtually no flaws. “Pagan Fruit” is a display of blues rock bordering on the excellent, yet at the same time, it is a suitable soundtrack for such a limited amount of mindsets that from an objective stance, it is nigh impossible to recommend the album to anyone but a diehard fan of blues. So if heaven, for you, is an evocatively weeping guitar meandering through a berceuse of sleepy rhythms and languid (though, admittedly, persistently creative) bass work, “Pagan Fruit” is likely to deliver many a reward. Indeed, the ambitions that Dwellers have set for themselves here are fully realised, yet it would be crass to ignore the critical absence of a-ha! moments across the record, prompting me to leave you with a grade which recognises the band’s talent and its usage, while taking into account the lack of memorabilia that plagues it.

Download: Totem Crawler, Return to the Sky, Devoured by Lions, Waiting on Winter
For the fans of: All Them Witches, Pet the Preacher, Zodiac
Listen: Facebook

Release date 06.05.2014
Small Stone Records

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