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The Skull Guru – Sofar Nofar

The Skull Guru
Sofar Nofar
by Gary Hernandez at 12 June 2022, 5:28 PM

THE SKULL GURU is an eclectic foursome based out of Madrid, Spain. They fuse Blues, Doom, Prog, and Stoner Rock into their sound, creating a down-tuned jazz aesthetic. They originally formed in 2015 under the name SLAP GURU. After releasing three albums under that moniker, the band underwent a line-up change, adapted a heavier vibe, and opted for a name change. On April 30, 2022 they issued their fourth album, “SoFar NoFar.”

SoFar NoFar” comprises eight tracks and stretches to the 37-minute mark. The album starts off promising enough, with Psych Doom infused “A Crimson Fire” which at first blush intones “Electric Funeral” if not for its musical phrasing than by its narrative. That impression fades, however, as the track continues, expanding its story and exploring a more blues-jazz expanse. This first track is probably the Doomiest of the lot. The final track, “Mose’s Down,” straps on some leaden boots as well, but the remaining six songs are more firmly grounded in a 70’s Rock aesthetic reminiscent of URIAH HEAP.

If you’re looking for heavy, “Rock ‘n’ Demons” is probably the heaviest track of the lot. Here Valerio Willy Goattin leans into the gritty side of his vocals, while Matteo (bass) and Jose (drums) maintain an unrelenting tempo with Andrea Ballini (guitars) punching up the distortion with mean, hatchet chop riffs. Other notable heavies are “Underwater,” “You Own This Road,” and “Melting Pot.”

While I prefer their heavier side, the band’s Prog propensities are also intriguing. “Moon Tide,” much like its namesake, will draw you in with its curious bassline, hypnotic guitar work, and soothing vocals. Likewise, “The Risk is Me,” also replicates its title by hazarding the fusion of multiple styles, like Zappa meets SABBATH.  The closing track, “Mose’s Down,” is another captivating track. In my book it competes with “A Crimson Fire” as the best track on the album. This instrumental showcases the virtuosity of all the members from the twin guitar assault of Valerio Willy Goattin and Andrea Ballini to the symbiotic rhythm section of Matteo and Jose.

Taking in the band's entire catalogue, you’ll note one constant. This band does not stand still. They explore, they evolve. In that sense, “SoFar NoFar” is nothing new for THE SKULL GURU. On the other hand, of all their releases it is their tightest and best produced album. Confidence and competence exude every track and every note on this diverse album.  The paradox is that through constant change, THE SKULL GURU has solidified their course. Upward and onward.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. A Crimson Fire
2. Melting Pot
3. Underwater
4. You Own This Road
5. The Risk Is Me
6. Rock & Roll Demons
7. Moon Tide
8. The Mose's Down
Lineup:
Valerio Willy Goattin – Vocals and guitar
Andrea Ballini – Guitar
Matteo “Nigel” Lonardi – Bass
José Medina Portero – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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