Connoisseur - Over The Edge
Released by: Tankcrimes Records
Released on: April 7th, 2017.
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Fourteen brand new tracks in twenty four minutes courtesy of Connoisseur, who with the Tankcrimes Records release of Over The Edge, follow up the 2015 release of Stoner Justice. Made up of Dan on guitar, Carlos on vocals and Lyle on drums, this Oakland based act completely up the ante in terms of weed references and blasting, heavy sounds.
The album starts off with The Stoning, two minutes of pedal to the metal punk infused weed powered sludge complete with a NYHC style breakdown and enough tuned down riffing to give Tony Iommi a raging boner. The Cookie Monster vocals actually work here, and the band's sense of humor and commitment to getting baked shine through right from the start - "WE ARE THE STONERS!"
The theme continues with All Day Every Day, a forty-one second track that's over before you know it, but that kicks you in the brain repeatedly during its quick run time. The sixty-six second long Maximum Hashism is a bit more interesting and atypical, sounding a little GWAR-ish in spots, but without sacrificing their own trademark sound. This is fast, dirty and skunky. Boulevard Of Broken Bongs is positively epic by Connoisseur standards, clocking in at three minutes and seventeen seconds. It starts off with a calm, serene intro with some pleasant sounding guitar work over some rhythmic drumming but that changes quickly once you get thirty-seconds into it. Here Carlos' vocals really just slither and slide all over the track, showing admirable range and conjuring up just as much heaviness as Dan's sluge-laden guitar playing. This is a calmer, maybe even artiser Connoisseur than we hear on the other tracks on this record but it's cool to hear them experimenting a little bit while still staying nailed down tight into the genre that gave birth to them.
Weeding Out The Weak is a return to heavy, brutal form. This eighty-two second track is a total assault on the senses, but underneath all the power violence style burial tactics there's actually a solid riff and, dare I say it, even a bit of melody. Not too much though, but it's there! It's Lit cranks things up to eleven, spending fifty-five seconds just blasting and raging and pummeling you, it doesn't slow down for a second and it's Goddamn beautiful in its relentlessness. Live To Smokeis a battle cry of sorts, starting out with a jammy sort of prog-style guitar heavy opening, some jazzy style drum working anchoring it nicely. Then? BOOM! A massive riff throws you to the floor and bulldozes you as the vocals go off about mistaken identity, issues of confusion and, of course, the joys of partaking in the sacred herb.
The second half of the record starts out with I'd Rather Be Smoking Weed, a salute to the band's love of pot that runs for two minutes and thirty six seconds. This one is a bit more staccato in its sounds, but it still has that sludgy mix of thrash and doom going for it that makes Connoisseur such a kick ass band. Not surprisingly, this song is about smoking weed. The Answer is a short, sixty-seven second jam that gallops and jumps around and makes you want to break shit. That's not normally what happens when you partake but this track is angry and violent in both sound and intent - in the best way possible.
Mala Yierba clocks in at just under two minutes and it sees the band safely in their comfort zone, delivering heavy slabs of gungy guitar work and over the top vocals. Free The Weed is three seconds, I don't really know what to say about it. It took longer to write that than to listen to it. The Doctor is a sixty-two second long rager, a take no prisoners blast that'll have you jumping around and punching the walls before you know it. Plague Mask runs three minutes and thirty six seconds, again a very long track by the band's typical standards, but it's a good one. The drumming here is insane, super-fast and super-tight, while the berserker vocals eschewing the merits of smoking dope sound completely dedicated and sincere in their message. This track doesn't slow down much at all, save for a section about a minute and ten seconds in where things get almost black metal-ish for a brief period that allows the band to get a little bit experimental. It gets a little dirgy in spots but it's Connoisseur doing what they do best and this is one of the stand out tracks on the record. Cashed Out closes things out. This minute and forty-three second long track opens with some ambient noise before the guitars fade up in the mix and start to (but never completely) drown out the drone. It's completely instrumental, the guitars fade up and then fade back down, letting the drone come back over top. A strange way to close out the record, but then, somehow fitting and appropriate.
All in all, a super solid slab of heavy riffs, insane vocals and over the top weed-influenced songwriting make Over The Edge another strong entry in Connoisseur's discography. The production values are good but not so good that they get rid of the band's raw, nasty sound - but definitely clean enough that you can appreciate the musicianship that went into putting all of this together. I don't even touch pot but I can totally get into this band.