From Beyond - One Year (EP) (2012)


The music industry is always doomed to repeat itself. Every artist, every sound, will ultimately come back repackaged, with a new name attached. Yes, that means you, Lady Gaga. But while most of these retro acts are simply pandering, some bring back and old style with a new hook. Houston's From Beyond are poised to bring metal back to the days of yore with their own take on psychedelic doom. On their new EP, "One Year," you will almost certainly hear shades of the past hidden in the dark corners of each track. But unlike their peers, you will never question for a minute whether this music is real, or just a throwback.

As the volume increases on "Evil (From Beyond)," there is a classic metal sound to it all, with the influence of Blue Cheer readily apparent in the building chords. Even the vocal lines have a retro tone, embodying a more bluesy style than most contemporary doom can usually muster. Through the course of a solid guitar groove, and right on down into the slower breakdown portion, all of the pieces fall into line, both sonically and in the mix. But the true psychedelia comes into play on the following track, the colorful "The Heavy Wait." Somewhere in that wave of cymbal crashes, the band find their place, a sound that is as much their own as it is an homage to those who came before. Because in this six minute piece, you have a concentrate of all things heavy. Alternating waves of fast paced riffs and down tempo chugging are the norm, but the blasting drums manage to tie them all together with deft hands.

The strongest vocal performance comes in the form of the song "Warhorse," seeing a layered vocal melody resting atop a groove laden bass line. This is the one that will get your head moving to the beat, the constant patter of snares and toms. And while this may be the most accessible and stripped down track to be had, that is by no means an indictment of it. Instead, it speaks to the quality of the writing process. As the impending solo hits, you feel like you have gone back in time to experience the earliest days of metal, all with the production and mix of modern technology. The final chord echos, rolling directly into the title track, which begins as cool as the proverbial cucumber. A  trembling vocal is so welcome, all leading up to the chorus blasting ahead. The verse is down and blue, reminiscent of Black Sabbath in their prime, while the chorus is that wave of distortion that carries you on its back. The latter half of the track is just plain heavy, with a weight of dirty guitars, bass, and drums that will bring you to your knees.

We all know that music is not a linear art form, but rather it is cyclical. The old styles will always find their way back, in the form of retro outfits. To be clear, From Beyond is not one of those acts. This isn't a four track EP of hero worship and grand theft audio. You get so much more than a new wave of old school psychedelic doom; you find a band ripe with their own ideas of what this music is, and can be. So while you hear their influences woven throughout, there is never a moment where you think, "these guys just want to sound like Sabbath or Floyd." This is the next generation of the genre, and "One Year" is a good place to start.

8/10

Bandcamp - http://musicfrombeyond.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/FromBeyondBand