Ecstatic Vision are a band that linger in a class of chunky, driving metal that only a few can do right without coming across as ludicrous. It’s THC-fueled space rock that falls somewhere between fuzzed-out caveman Krautrock, and a less doom-and-gloom Black Sabbath. These Philly guys are steeped in 70s progressive rock and 90s doom, and they’ve got the glassy eyes to prove it.
There’s only a few bands that I would call contemporaries to Ecstatic Vision; Joy, Psicomagia, Harsh Toke, and to a lesser extent earlier Black Mountain. These bands, along with Ecstatic Vision, come across as stoner shaman here to deliver the message of the Gods. Chugging, chunky guitars lumber along loping bass lines. Crushing motorik beats push the music along as an occasional saxophone squelch comes screaming out of the mix. In Ecstatic Vision’s case, the vocals are gruff and rough. It’s like a less bloody Matt Pike growl with more melody.
Sonic Praise is filled with killer riffs and stoned grooves. “Journey” opens the album with delayed vocals that sound almost angelic before a Holy Mountain-like vibe rolls in like war clouds. Ken Hensley-tinged organ fills the gaps between groove and bloody fist. Next up is the three part “Astral Plane”. It’s how you would imagine a song called “Astral Plane” would be that’s broken into three parts. It’s bloody brilliant. Tribal, heavy, cosmic, and fueled with enough Mary Jane that you’ll get a contact high just listening. “Don’t Kill The Vibe” does anything but. Probably the heaviest track on the album and possibly what The Howlin’ Wind was attempting to do but got lost somewhere between The Magician’s Birthday and Against The Wind. Normally I am not a fan of the screamed, growled vocals(Matt Pike being the exception, natch), but with Ecstatic Vision it seems to do the music justice. It adds to the grizzled space traveler vibe. I imagine some hairy, muscle-bound animated character from the Heavy Metal publication soaring through outer space with a barely clothed, buxom brunette clinging to him for dear life as they soar at light speed on an multi-dimensional light bike.
Title track “Sonic Praise” feels like a trek through some hot, green cannabis jungle, while “Cross The Divide” closes the album out with nine minutes of intense, hazy groove.
Ecstatic Vision make the kind of music that tows the line between mystic space traveler and the basement-dwelling stoner. That’s not a knock, either. Everyone has a dream, and kush dreams are some of the best and most enlightened. Sonic Praise is the kind of record you think up and create at your most enlightened; amps buzzing, lights down low, haze in the air, and the universe broke wide open.