Review von ultimo.devcon.net von Mirko Puzic
MASTERS OF REALITY “Welcome To The Western Lodge”
Brownhouse / Rough Trade
Chris Goss ist ein Spaßvogel. Fängt sein neues Album doch glatt mit einem Track namens "It's Shit" an. Der meint doch wohl nicht die Platte? Nun macht Goss mit seiner Band Masters Of Reality ja nur alle Jubeljahre mal eine Album. Umso gespannter ist man dann, wenn ein neues Produkt der Band ansteht. Im Falle der hier vorliegenden LP "Welcome To The Western Lodge" reibt man sich dann aber doch erstmal verwundert die Ohren. Chris Goss befindet sich in einer Experimentierphase! Hat in letzter Zeit wohl viel early Pink Floyd gehört, der Mann. Psychedelischer Artrock hat den Blues der alten Tage etwas beiseite gedrängt. Das klingt keineswegs schlecht, ist aber gewöhnungsbedürftig. Etwa wenn Goss die Stimme durch den Vocoder jagt, obwohl sein prächtiges Organ solcherart Verfremdung eigentlich nicht nötig hat. Im Gegenteil, Goss' prägnanter Gesang war von jeher einer der Fixpunkte im Masters-Universum. Ein Teil der Tracks folgt dessen ungeachtet dem bewährten Muster, etwa "Why The Fly", einer der Höhepunkte der Platte. Insgesamt gesehen ist das neue Werk eine recht sperrige Angelegenheit, die Qualitäten offenbaren sich erst nach mehrmaligen Anhören. Dann aber dämmert's...
Review von Break Out
MASTERS OF REALITY - Welcome To The Western Lodge
(Brownhouse / RTD)
Es ist kaum zu glauben, aber das letzte Studio-Album der Masters Of Reality erschien bereits 1992. Seit "Sunrise On The Sufferbus" erfreute uns M.O.R.-Frontmann Chris Goss zwar noch mit dem Live-Mitschnitt "How High The Moon" und einigen exzellenten Produktionen (Kyuss, Scott Weiland), der Erscheinungstermin des dritten Albums seiner Stammformation wurde jedoch ein ums andere Mal nach hinten geschoben.
Goss, so weiß man, läßt sich für alles, was er macht, ungeheure Zeit, nicht von ungefähr sind seine Alben traumhafte Kombinationen von harten Rock-Riffs, psychedelischen Sound-Collagen, erdigen Blues-Riffs und Beatles-mäßigen Vocal-Harmonien, was wunderbarerweise nicht wie ein zusammengeklautes Sammelsurium an Popmusik-Zitaten klingt, sondern stets homogen und wie aus einem Guß aus den Boxen fließt.
Auch auf "Welcome To The Western Lodge" hat Goss wieder schier Unglaubliches geleistet. So erinnert "Take A Shot At The Clown" mit seinen flirrenden Orgel-Sounds an die Frühphase der Psychedelic-Pioniere Pink Floyd, könnte das eingängige "Time To Burn" auch aus den experimentellen "White Album"-Tagen der Beatles stammen, scheint das schwer verzerrte "Annihilation Of The Spirit" von den von Goss produzierten Wüsten-Rockern inspiriert. Als Nachteil kann man werten, daß die stilistische Vielfalt diesmal ein wenig zu Lasten der Homogenität geht, was das sensationelle Debüt "Masters Of Reality" (unter Fans auch "The Blue Garden" genannt) zum nach wie vor stärksten Album des schwergewichtigen Musikers macht.
Und trotz einiger akkurater Kracher wie "Boymilkwaltz", "It's Shit" oder "The Great Spelunker" fehlen doch einige absolute Weltklasse-Songs wie die formidablen Hymnen "Doraldina's Prophecies", "She Got Me", "John Brown" oder "Sleep Walkin'".
Sicher ein starkes Album, aber wer "Welcome..." gut findet, muß die anderen drei Scheiben unter allen Umständen besitzen.
MASTERS OF REALITY - Welcome To The Western Lodge CD
Review von Broken Silince, Thomas Jänsch
Eine echte Überraschung für mich ist das neue Masters Of Reality Album geworden, das sich soundmäßig doch ganz gehörig von seinen beiden regulären Vorgängern ("How High The Moon" einmal ausgenommen) unterscheidet. Man möge mich töten, aber der bisher stets leicht präsente Metalfaktor ist nahezu ganz verschwunden, wobei gleichzeitig der Härtegrad, und ich beziehe mich hierbei auf MOR Dimensionen, angehoben wurde.
Außerdem scheint Mastermind Chris Goss' Produzententätigkeit (dieser Mann schuf den unverwechselbaren Kyuss Sound) auch auf den Klang seiner eigenen Band Auswirkungen zu haben, denn statt der bisher meist klaren Strukturen hört sich "Welcome To The Western Lodge" teilweise herrlich verratzt und verschroben an, wie zum beispiel das superzähe "Annihilation Of The Spirit" beweist, das typische Gitarren Shop Verkäufer mit Sicherheit um ihre Amps fürchten lassen würde.
Überhaupt ist die ganze Platte mit ihren dreizehn kompakt gehaltenen Songs auf 38 Minuten äußerst abwechslungsreich geworden und es finden sich neben typischen Masters Of Reality Standards wie "The Great Spelunker", das ruhig beginnt und in einer sehr smoothen Gitarrenmelodie, unterlegt von locker relaxten Riffs, gipfelt, neben insgesamt ruhig-bluesigen Sachen wie "Take A Shot At The Clown" oder "Baby Mae" auch bisher eher untypische Songs wie der extrem lässige Opener "It's Shit", das durch einen schön schepperigen Schlagzeugsound, eine coole Melodie und vor allem dem superlässig-entspannten Gesang auffällt und wohl den offensichtlichsten Hit von "Welcome To The Western Lodge" darstellt, denn insgesamt gesehen braucht die Scheibe dann doch einige Durchgänge zur vollen Entfaltung.
Hat man die aber geschafft, wird man mit einem (und es tut mir leid um meine Wortwahl) supercoolen und im positiven Sinne positive Vibes versprühenden Hörerlebnis belohnt, wohl mit das Beste, was der Indie Markt derzeit hergibt. Das hier würde sich vorzüglich zur Untermalung von entspannten Poolaufenthalten oder sommerlicher Parties eignen und erinnert mich von der Atmosphäre her an die letzte Butthole Surfers Platte "Electric Larryland". Und schon mal beim Thema angekommen, wo ist nur der verdammte Radiosender, der solche Musik spielt anstatt der üblichen Dancescheiße? Aber es wird wohl nichts anderes bleiben als die Masters live auf ihrer Tour im August zu sehen. Ich jedenfalls werde hingehen.
Ausführliches englisches Review von The Truth Hurts.com von Lamar Mitchell
Masters of Reality, “Welcome to the Western Lodge”
Everybody has a list of their favorite bands who they think should be bigger than Jesus but for some reason never quite get the recognition they deserve. The Masters of Reality are one of those bands that top my list. Taking their name from the album by Black Sabbath, these guys in their ever-evolving incarnations specialize in low-note metal grooves, but to describe them as simply a metal band would do them a grave injustice. In fact, the first time I heard them while eating pizza one day, I thought I was hearing an early Jethro Tull album I wasn't familiar with. I immediately went next door to Atlanta's famous Wax n' Facts and asked the guy behind the counter (who happened to be Steve Gorman, future drummer for the Black Crowes) about them. Somehow he knew exactly who I was talking about and proceeded to tell me of their erratic history - playing in obscurity for years on the club scene before being signed by Rick Rubin to Def American records, at which point internal frictions threatened to break up the band. According to Mr. Gorman (who I later realized had scoop because his own band was signed to the very same label), Rubin threatened to kill them all if they didn't work out their differences and tour behind the kick-ass album he'd just produced for them (Masters of Reality, 1988, Def American).
Well, I got the first album and loved it. Thus began my frustrating journey of awaiting each new release. They were not a prolific band, so the wait between albums tended to be quite long. Their next legitimate release (not counting the re-release of the first album on a different label) was Sunrise on the Suffer Bus (1992, Chrysalis). The one after that, How High the Moon, a live album recorded at LA's famed Viper Room, came out five years later (1997, Malicious Vinyl). It was on that album that songwriter, bandleader and single constant in the line-up, Chris Goss, announced to the audience, "I promise there's going to be some new music for you motherfuckers soon." Two years later we have Welcome to the Western Lodge.
Unfortunately this album is as doomed to obscurity as all the others, at least here in the US, because as of this writing it is only available on import (and the band's web site, www.mastersofreality.com). Apparently the Europeans know something we don't. Main Master Chris Goss knows it too, and you've got to admire the guy for his persistence in putting out albums in the face of overwhelming odds. This time around he has pared down the ever-rotating line-up (which at various times has included Ginger Baker, Ramones producer and NY session guitarist Daniel Rey and LA powerhouse drummer Victor Indrizzo) to just himself and drummer John Leamy. Fewer headaches this way, perhaps. And it does sound as if on this album that Goss would finally explode with rage if he had to take on one more headache.
Fortunately for us Goss chooses to express himself with a guitar and a song rather than a machine gun. Instead of a spray of bullets, this album pops off a magazine full of killer riffs. Not to worry, this is not an explicitly violent album along the lines of Marilyn Manson, but make no mistake, it is one heavy trip into the dark heart of a pissed off player in the bullshit-driven business of music. The first song, It's Shit, pretty much sets the tone for the entire album. The blast of guitar sludge that kicks it off seems to be aping the seven-string, low end sound made popular these days by bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit and the Deftones. Cool-sounding, maybe, but is it good? Goss asserts a decidedly different opinion on the matter when in his high, sweet voice he croons over the wall of distortion, "It's shit/You wouldn't want to kiss it/Its own mother doesn't miss it/It's shit." I'm taking this as a batter-ram slam against the new breed of metal, as if to say, "You punks think you know what heavy is? I'll show you heavy!" Whether he's specifically targeting these bands or not is beside the point, really, when we have so many targets on the music scene these days to choose from. Too many plastic ducks, not enough ammunition. Leave it to a Master of Reality to tell it like it is. There's no question that music today puts flash over substance, sound over song, and image over talent. So where does that leave someone like Chris Goss who's paid his dues writing hypnotizing melodies coupled with deadly wicked hooks and sings them in a voice that has astounding range and depth? Well, since he's a portly, balding man somewhere in his 40's, that leaves him pretty much dead in the water. Just as he's not afraid to point out the blatant injustice of the music business, he is equally honest about his own standing in that business. "Take a shot at the clown," he sings in the song of the same name, adding, "Can't hurt you he's broken," in case anyone is tempted to feel sorry for the old rock and roller prematurely put out to pasture. This album evokes a world in which everything has broken down, save the voice of a lone survivor hoping to find a spark of passion still glowing beneath the heap of ashes. It is literally a wasteland of physically and spiritually spent rock stars, their bones turning up in the tide of time rather than a lasting legacy of great rock and roll songs. Some of the titles alone - Time to Burn, Ember Day, Annihilation of the Spirit - give the listener a clue as to the desperation and paranoia that pervades these songs, but it is the music that conveys the harsh landscape's true emotional barometer. Guitars abound on this record, each track meticulously built from layer on layer of earthquaking riffs and droning rhythms, nearly all of which are then distorted to the breaking point in the final mix. By the time we reach the song Calling Dr. Carrion we feel as if we've taken a horrifying stroll through the heavy metal version of Burrough's Interzone, with Carrion assuming Dr. Benway's unsavory duties as resident master of torture and pain.
This record is not for the faint of heart, perhaps even for some serious Masters of Reality fans, but neither is it completely devoid of the band's trademark moments of melancholy beauty. One of Goss's great strengths as a songwriter is the ability to write melodies as gorgeous as his riffs are monstrous. What a magnificent gift to unleash something from your instrument so terrifying that it is a beautiful thing to behold. Being from the old school of hard rock, he understands that heavy means not only weight and density but also depth, which is a lesson that is lost on these one-note, groove-fixated bands of today. Such moments, few and far between as they are, cut right through the claustrophobic air on this album. It seems that with each subsequent effort, Goss is attempting to say more with fewer words, and nowhere is that more apparent than on this album's slower songs. Rather than try to make a statement or tell a story, he uses his spare lyrics to evoke a mood, which in this age of information overload is a most refreshing change. The mood, however, does not always gibe with the music and can result in some disconcerting effects. Baby Mae opens with breezy acoustic strumming, while Goss sings in his achingly sweet voice as if he's tossing off an ancient folk ditty. But wait, what's up with these lyrics? "Mae, come and play/On the crimson altar/Bring all you sing/And your deadly sting." We could free-associate for hours with these sixteen words alone and never come close to the actual meaning, but somehow I think that's what Goss intended. For the majority of the album any attempt to play loose with the lyrics is tantamount to a meditation on the stars while being surrounded by New York's skyscrapers. The sheer instrumental density of the tracks tends to overwhelm the words. The slow songs take us to a more clear and open space. Even if that space is an abandoned graveyard where some sacrificial ritual is being performed or a haunted and desolate stretch of American backroad, it is a place where the imagination is still able to run free and wild. If you've forgotten among the techno-frenzy of beats per minute that such open vistas still exist, then I would prescribe a trip down Highway 62 in the song Lover's Sky, quite possibly the album's most transcendent moment. To tell the truth, every song on here has its moment of subtle, however fleeting beauty; Goss just can't seem to help himself. Lover's Sky is different in that it sustains that moment until you wish it would never end. When he asks himself, "How lost am I?" we, too, experience that blissful, drug-like feeling of being disconnected so completely from our bodies, our lives, and yes, even our minds, that no one can ever find us.
If I were to fault the record for anything, it would be that too many of these moments fall victim to production overkill. What I mean to say is that it has the sound and feel of a meticulously crafted work, with every piece of the sonic puzzle in its place, sometimes many pieces layered over in the same place. Because most of these elements come under the control of one man, they are flawlessly executed, but something still seems to be missing. Unfortunately, that one missing element is a thing no single person can ever produce. It is like an invisible extra member of a band who gets invoked whenever a tight group of musicians tunes in and resonates off each other, each instrument blending into and building on the next. In a curious way, this resonance creates a space between the instruments, a paradoxical silence that acts as the invisible thread holding everything together. Any time a lone musician tries to capture the sound of a band, it invariably sounds like so many instruments fighting to fill up that silence. Such is the problem with Welcome to the Western Lodge, one that becomes compounded in a way by Goss's relative weakness as a lead guitarist. In an attempt to compensate for the essential spark a lead guitarist lends to the proceedings (hard rock proceedings, in particular), Goss creates a monstrous wall of guitars. Often this is done to interesting effect, as when in The Great Spelunker the muted, staccato notes after each verse tease at the explosive riff that closes the song. Just as often, however, it ends up being too much of a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I think Chris Goss is one of rock's supreme architects, right up there with Jimmy Page, which makes this album a most interesting experience if you have the inclination, as I do, to excavate the various layers and marvel at how all these wicked sounds come together. Still, when an album of thirteen songs clocks in at under 40 minutes but sounds as though it sometimes lasts twice that long, it may be a sign of going too far.
But this, as I said, is a minor complaint of an otherwise very strong album. Goss has done a masterful job (no pun intended) of casting our modern sound and fury signifying very little that is heartfelt and meaningful as a post-apocalyptic wasteland of vapid and uninspired music. In this desolate place his is the lone voice that cries out for the primal, dark, and, yes, heavy spirit of rock and roll that though currently dormant, never goes away entirely. We can hope that on the next Masters album Goss will hook up with a group of like-minded musicians and unleash a truly terrifying beast of a rock and roll band on an unsuspecting public. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. Nor would I expect such an event to create much of a stir in whatever soulless concoction of a trend may be happening at the time.