Music News


These Northern Cal nomads have propagated the "stoner rock" mythos for a long time now. What else would you expect from three hairy behemoths who are the most ominous-looking triumvirate of mugwumps since vintage Blue Cheer? Nebula never fails to make the rafters shudder, and the sheer force of its live act is enough to have a person on his or her knees begging for the rapture to come. There's been a sizable progression in their five-year career, and Atomic Ritual is glorious evidence of their quantum musical evolution, combining the two major elements of Nebula's bipronged attack: On the one hand, they slug it out with the best of the '70s dinosaurs with their swamp-bred brand of rocking ooze (see "Carpe Diem"), and on the other, they evoke the full-throttle toke of the Stooges in a non-readymade way.

But Nebulacal forcefulness goes a lot further than merely aping the Stooges or Black Sabbath: "More" riffs with almost Hendrixoid ferocity, and "The Beast" is crypto-mythological, like the best Led Zeppelin, but at least Nebula croaker Eddie Glass doesn't sound like a castrated gnome, à la Robert Plant.

One of Nebula's gifts is its ability to work wonders with the slower stuff, which in lesser bands' hands would be an exercise in monotony. A perfect example is "Electric Synapse," which builds to a hypnotic groove based on a slow bluesy riff (featuring organ). "Strange Human," perhaps the album's best track, shifts midstream into a lulling bluesy section evoking nothing less than the druggy undertow of the Stones' Sticky Fingers -- that is, until it erupts into an intense Hawkwind-meets-Mott the Hoople elephantine stomp before switching back to the main Sabbathian riff.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Joe S. Harrington