review by: Ignacio Coluccio
While most people will agree on Sleep defining stoner doom metal (or "stoom"), some of us are crazy enough as to say that Acid King fits the bill better. Sure, they haven't recorded eighty-minute songs, but Zoroaster and Busse Woods were two of the most important albums, if not THE most important, to set and define what would later become stoner/doom as a (not really populated) genre.
So, besides the whole historical significance thing, what can be said about Acid King? Riffs. Black Sabbath-influenced riffs, the dopiest atmosphere in the genre (well, Sleep's own Dopesmoker is at the same level) while mantaining cohesion, and — *gulp* — songwriting. Riffs. The fact that Acid King is _not_ a jam band, as opposed to 99% of the Sleep clones that have been floating around.
Riffs. Did I mention riffs?. Oh yeah, and some downright scary female vocals (that, sadly, are not as common here as on newer albums).
Anyway, The Early Years is a compilation including Acid King’s first, self-titled EP and their Zoroaster CD. As it is to be expected, the production isn't nearly as good as it was on their last album, but it's still really good, emphasizing the low guitar notes, bass and vocals and giving it the typical stoner, Acid King-vibe. The music back then was comparable to the first two Electric Wizard albums, but with scratchier vocals and shorter, more cohesive songs. In fact, if you've heard Electric Wizard's self-titled, then you know pretty much everything you're gonna find here.
While technically, they aren't so different from your usual stoner doom band, Acid King can handle atmosphere much better than every single one of them, without really sounding completely laid-back. They can make it full of energy if they want to, and that's something that most bands just can't. They don't sound so extreme, either, with no death vocals or other extreme metal influences, they just sound like the old school doom we all love, but gone stoner.
Talking about how good it is doesn't even matter anyway. Zoroaster is one of the CDs that started it all for the second wave of Black Sabbath worshippers, and as such needs to be listened to, at least by anyone who happens to be into doom. However, it IS an amazing album, regardless of how important it was or how much we all love some angry female vocals. And did I mention the totally sweet riffs? (Classic/10)