Album Review: Dunbarrow – Dunbarrow II

More beautiful ear and head candy from the good folks at RidingEasy Records, this time in the form of Dunbarrow II by, you guessed it, Dunbarrow. This record harkens back to the days of Iron Claw, Leaf Hound, Toad, and Wicked Lady with a bit of The Cream tossed in for good measure. And believe it or not, Dunbarrow isn’t from the states, rather Haugesund, Norway.

I remember the first time I heard Slip Inside This House by The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. It was a powerful and defining experience because the Elevators didn’t have to hit you over the head with their sound to show you their psychedelic side. It was subtle yet pronounced. It lived in the background of your psyche, toying with it. And that’s what Dunbarrow does with this record.

Dunbarrow II feels lo-fi, yet it isn’t. It has a quiet heaviness that doesn’t hit you over the head with the requisite wall of distortion or stack of Marshall Amps one would expect to prove rock prowess.

“Ode to the Moon” and the jazz,y, blues-inspired “The Demon Within” are great examples of this. It’s guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll but delivered on its own terms. Cream did the same thing on Disraeli Gears for example, and that’s a helluva comparison, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. There’s a sneaky undertone of Cream’s sound that creeps into parts of this record, ever so slightly, that further lends to the band’s credence in the music they’re making; it’s genuine, this is real.

What a lot of stoner/doom/sludge bands don’t understand is the fact that heaviness isn’t always volume-dependent, or guitar pedal-dependent; it’s a mindset, a vibe, something that emerges from the song as an after product if it’s done right. I’m sure Eric Wagner from Trouble and The Skull would agree. He’s mastered that, and I feel like Dunbarrow are marching towards that too.

The song craft and how well the music gels with each tune is amazing. It’s light on Sabbath worship (thank god) and heavy on creating mood and atmosphere by channeling a day and age that’s long since passed some 40-50 years ago. “Dunbarrow II” has a distinct, fuzzed out, British-rock-blues-quality, but fused with the mentality of, say, The Samsara Blues Experiment or early Brainticket as well.

Dunbarrow never has to try hard to be who they are ,and believe me, I listed a bunch of bands Dunbarrow reminds me of, or has hints of, in their music. Check this band out and give them a listen. Dunbarrow and Electric Citizen are the future of this genre. And so say I, the future looks bright…

Purchase the album here. 

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