review by Nicholas Senior
Ontario-based duo Indian Handcrafts have flown under the radar a bit (especially here in the States and among those who don’t expertly follow the stoner rock scene), but that’s about to change with the band’s excellent sophomore record. Creeps sees the group both improving upon the sound they established on 2012’s Civil Disobedience for Losers while also expanding their sound in a more traditional and metallic direction. Previously, the band’s take on stoner rock was filtered through a punk lens, so the requisite Melvins and Torche influences were there, even if the songs were a bit more lively. The band has stated that the debut was their 70’s-style record, and Creeps is more influenced by the 80s. I don’t know how accurate the statement is, but this record definitely shifts the band’s punk-y, space-y roots toward a sound more indebted to sludge metal and the almighty Black Sabbath, with a fuzz rock undercurrent. It’s a lovely cross between Clutch-style hard rock and High on Fire’s sludge, with a wink and a nod to Queens of the Stone Age’s psychedelic riff rock. Basically, this is exactly what I always want out of my stoner rock: RIFFS, hooks, and intelligent songwriting.
What’s really impressive about Creeps is how Indian Handcrafts is able to put a unique stamp on each track and play around with tempos and riff patterns (within songs and among them as well) to create a collection of songs that are easy to distinguish even on first listen. This isn’t some Sabbath-style worship-fest where “songs” exist as arbitrary distinctions where the band needed the next bong hit. This is stoner music for those of us who love the almighty riff and choose to not partake in the green leaf for whatever reason. (Though I’m sure it’s a fun trip while walking the ganja jungle.) “Maelstrom” is the punkified Ozzy Osbourne track you need in your life, with a neat Randy Rhoads-style guitar riff/lead. “It’s Late Queeny” one-ups anything Queens of the Stone Age has put out since Songs for the Deaf. You’ll hear bits and pieces that recall Torche, Mastodon, Baroness, and Melvins.
That’s the best part of Creeps: despite some obvious sonic call-outs, Indian Handcrafts has crafted a wholly unique stoner rock/metal experience. It’s more metallic and sonically ambitious than their debut, resulting in one of the best heavy rock records you’ll hear all year. It’s certainly the most fun. If it weren’t for a rather weak one-two punch ending, this would certainly be an album of the year contender. As it is, it’s so much damn fun, I will just keep listening for now; that’s enough for me. (Nicholas Senior)