Is it just me, or is Stoner Metal sort of the creepy uncle of Metal? I mean, not because it’s likely to show up drunk (well…maybe in a different altered state of conscious), but because it has older roots than most genres and nobody seems to talk about it that much. It’s sort of stuck between Metal and Hard Rock. It’s kind of a shame, though, since you get some really enjoyable bands in the genre. But enough musing: If you like it dirty and groovy Stoner Metal, FIREBALL MINISTRY will be a pleasing experience.
In the same vein as SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, KYUSS, FIREBIRD and SCOFF, FIREBALL MINISTRY has a strong Hard Rock background present in their infectious, enjoyable sound. This is their third full-length since 1999 and their star is rising, as they’ve toured with DIO and ANTHRAX and have received promotional support from Bam Margera on his “Viva La Bands” compilation. I knew I’d heard the name before, but this is my first encounter with them.
What we’ve got here is classic Stoner; they’re in no hurry to stomp out their song with rocking licks and crunchy grooves. The rhythm under the chorus for “The Broken” is almost as old as the electric guitar, but here is sounds not as a ripoff but as an welcome visit with an old friend. Vocalist/guitarist James A. Rota III has a gravely voice reminiscent of Christ Boltendahl (except on “Sundown,” where he does an Ozzy impression), not refined or particularly gifted, but with the sort of conviction and energy you’d expect from a group that’s playing music not for music’s sake, not but the consumer’s sake, but for the sake of playing. With a rough sound, you can almost visualize these four folks playing as energetically in a garage as in an arena.
The only real complaint is a personal pet peeve—repetition. The refrain for “Spill The Demons,” for instance, wears out its welcome and begins to grate before even reaching the halfway point. While that’s the extreme, the repetition often makes me want to skip the last minute or so of many songs. Still, it’s not a major problem. I guess the production could be a little better and still preserve the rawness, but now I’m just picking nits. “This Rock Is Not Our Rock” won’t change the world, won’t make you perceive music any differently, but is perfect for rocking background noise. If you like any of the bands I mentioned above, FIREBALL MINISTRY is worth your time. (October October 2, 2006)