The journey to the Fractal Altar will be an interesting one: West Coast stoner rockers Snail have laid out a trail of fuzzed-out mile markers that stylistically span just about everything the field of psychedelic and stoner rock has to offer that's worth listening to. There is much to explore here, ranging from sizzling rock, driving doom, and tambourine-backed singalong choruses, but at the end lies an undeniable monolith: a nine-minute mind-bending dirge of a title track. Approach with reverence: our full exclusive stream awaits below.



Often taking its time building up to punchy riffs, Fractal Altar shows off slick songwriting that's thoughtful and almost seems tongue-in-cheek. The more unusual moments on the album help make it memorable, and they're often contrasted against darker and more intense moments as if to cement their oddness: "Nothing For You" devotes its runtime to a brand of punky doom steeped in minor modes and cynicism, but it's immediately followed by a discordantly buoyant chorus in "Not Two" that's in line with some of the most uncannily joyful bits that Cathedral ever came up with. That's not to say that the change-ups are jarring: everything on display is tied together with an unshakeable feel for groove and pacing.

No single role dominates the sound, with riffing often focusing on building moods over note-heaviness. This lets the layered vocals of the band come across clearly, cleverly slot into the song structures to deliver well-timed musings and thunderous howls—and guitar solos, arrayed against bass in a classic "power trio" setting, carry much more weight than they would in busier settings. These dynamics build up the momentum through the album until arriving at the closer, "Fractal Altar," where much of the nuance is cast off in favor of volume. While entire albums are (quite frequently) dedicated to this sound exclusively, it seems to resonate much more strongly here, silhouetted against the other facets of Snail's psychedelic might. Plus, whirling canyons of apocalyptic fuzz seem to be a good place for the record to conclude: as if hinting at further doom as yet unrealized, the final throes of "Fractal Altar" are cut off rather than fading away.

From the band:

We are so pleased to finally release Fractal Altar! What began as normal studio sessions in January 2020 was quickly derailed by a global pandemic, throwing all schedules off and everything up in the air. Now, more than a year later, all our hard work and dreams have finally come to fruition...and we couldn't be more proud or pleased to share this with the world.

For us, this release represents the relief - 'It's finally almost over.'

Give thanks at the Fractal Altar.


Fractal Altar releases April 30th via Argonauta Records.

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