The stoner rock quartet's massive new album hits streaming services on Friday

At the onset of the aptly named “Crater Maker,” the title track off the excellent new long-player from stoner rock quartet Weed Demon, doom-laden guitar riffs are briefly interrupted by a massive crunching sound that comes across like the heavy footsteps of some mythic beast stomping its way through a thick, wet blanket of snow. The effect is fully intended to mirror the approach of the song’s titular beast, though the secret behind its creation is slightly less than romantic.

“It turns out you can find sound effects for anything on Google,” said singer/bass guitarist Jordan Holland, who joined guitarist Andy Center for an early April conference call leading to the band’s long-in the works new album, which will be released digitally on Friday, April 3 (click here to visit Weed Demon’s Bandcamp site). “The one I found was called something like ‘dinosaur footsteps’ on YouTube, so that was what we went with.”

Lyrically, the album centers mostly on these imagined worlds, with Holland repeatedly embodying destructive entities. “I am the crater maker,” he growls on the title track, and then later, on “Sporelord,” “I am the one who melts your mind!” 

The band can certainly be forgiven for wanting to escape reality, as of late. Not only was a planned April tour to California scrapped due to COVID-19, but the vinyl release of Crater Maker has been indefinitely delayed because the band’s label, Electric Valley Records, is based in Italy, which has been deeply ravaged by the pandemic, leading to the temporary closure of the plant that was to press the LP.

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“I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, but I’m used to playing in hardcore bands, or angry death metal or punk bands, where it’s hard not to personalize the lyrics and it’s hard not to make more of a social critique,” said Holland of the lyrical imagination he employs within Weed Demon. “I try not to make it something where it’s like. ‘Oh, I’m going to rail against the establishment and talk about how upset I am at our lack of universal health care,’ which I’m a big fan of. However, I want to keep Weed Demon in a more neutral realm."

This isn’t the case musically, with Holland and Center, who are joined in the band by drummer Nick Carter and guitarist Brian Buckley,  tending toward more extreme sounds. Throughout, the four-piece crafts thick, heavy guitar dirges that unfold so gradually it’s as though the bandmates have incorporated time evolutions in lieu of time changes, these patient musical shifts somehow feeling stretched out over generations rather than minutes. All of this can make Crater Maker an easy record to get lost in, the plodding, crunchy riffs essentially slowing the brain in a time when anxieties have many of our minds racing.

The band took a similarly patient approach to recording, which stretched over nearly two years, Center gradually accruing riffs and then taking them to the band, which stretched them into hypnotic slow burners such as the earth-rattling “Birthquake” and “Sporelord,” a massive, 12-minute bulldozer that closes with a disarmingly jaunty coda. (The album isn’t without its left turns, including leadoff track “Atmospheric Drag,” which was written as a continuation of the instrumental coda that ended the band’s last album and plays like the strip-mined acoustic counterpart to the mountainous sounds that follow.)

“A lot of my experience playing in bands has been playing one- or two-minute songs, where you play a riff three or four times and then it’s gone,” Center said. “Doing something where we’re playing the same thing for three, four, five minutes is sort of liberating. … You can layer all of these things under it that make it more musical.”

“If it’s a good riff, there’s no reason to cut it off,” Holland said. “You want to give each riff its due diligence.”