Joey Toscano: vocals, guitars, harmonica
Dave Jones: bass, organ
Zach Hatsis: drums, vibraphone, Rhodes piano, synth, tambourine
Additional Musicians on Pagan Fruit:
Genevieve Smith: Cello on “Spirit of the Staircase”.
Raven Quinn: Vocals on “Call of the Hallowed Horn”.
Recorded and engineered by Andy Patterson at The Boars Nest, Salt Lake City, UT.
Mixed by Eric Hoegemeyer at Tree Laboratory, Brooklyn, NY.
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs, Ann Arbor, MI.
Lyrics by Joey Toscano.
Music by Dwellers.
Cover illustration by Adrian Brouchy of Coven Illustración.
Coloring and layout by Joey Toscano.
Produced by Dwellers.
Published by Small Stone Records (ASCAP).
Staff Rating: Crank this to 8 of 11
Genre: Stoner rock
Sounds Like: Mad Season, Wolf People
Dwellers are a three-piece band from Salt Lake City, Utah that has evolved from the massive psych, blues, stoner rock ashes of Iota. We had wondered what had happened to Iota, who were a fantastically dark acid trip, so we got to seeking them out. We were pleased to find that guitarist/singer/songwriter, Joey Toscana had formed a new band called Dwellers with Dave Jones on bass and Zach Hatsis on durms and picked up by venerable label, Small Stone Records. They have released three albums to date, 2009’s Peace and other Horrors, a 4-track EP of haunting, instrumental acoustics that nudged our interest. 2012 saw the release of Good Morning Harakiri, this album was a fantastic release of heavy stoner blues in the vein of Wo Fat or Sgt. Sunshine. It featured growling blues vocals, trippy guitars a la Wo Fat or Kyuss and plenty of acid jams that harkened back to Iota and the best qualities of stoner rock blues, so naturally we were hooked.
We now have Pagan Fruit in 2014 and we have to admit this album scared the hell out of us at first. The dirty vocals are gone on this outing, as are the massive walls of acid soaked blues. What we have here is a band in transition. What they will become remains to be seen, but Pagan Fruit is not a pure nod to their past, but more of a possible window into their future. They could have easily released another Wo Fat style stoner rock album that might have invariably gotten lost in the shuffle; however, they resisted and took a new uncharted path. Pagan Fruit is slower, more polished, and more melodic; it has a distinct and vibrant quality adding individuality to their songs. It is on a path to Dead Meadow or a nod to Mad Season, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
From the onset of track one, "Creature Comforts," we noticed a unique vibe accentuated by a more ethereal mellow psych blues. The vocals of Joey Toscano are very crisp; creating a calm and bluesy aura. We were even more impressed with "Totem Crawler," this track throws some infectious blues into the album. On "Return to the Sky" we hear the use of a vibraphone and it really sets things at a new level, this is where the influences of Mad Season come into play. Moving onto "Rare Eagle," this track is very melodic with evolved vocals and harmonies. It is a long song that really pulls you in to the vortex and the addition of the synths toward the end makes the music even more diverse. "Son of Raven" has a 'No Quarter' vibe and even though it’s the shortest one of the bunch, it may be the most dramatic.
The heavy "Devoured by Lions," just melts your brain with desperate vocals, dirty ass blues and stoner rock bliss that is a clear homage to past efforts as it causes involuntary cranking of the dial. Another standout track is "Spirit of the Staircase," this one has amazing vocal range; the use of echo is well timed and inspiring. Couple this with the use of some blissful cello work and you have one hell of a track. The fun vibe of "Waiting on Winter" is appealing and will turn heads to anyone who digs rock music. This will bring to the grand finale, "Call of the Hallowed Horn". Now this 8:23 track is deep and is a great stormy day loner song, it features some blended synth-work, reminiscent to some classic Deep Purple. The song begins as stoner-doom, but at the 4:05 mark it careens into some warped early Pink Floyd meets Graveyard-styled jamming. To cap things off, the track quenches our appetite through the use of the chanting of female guest vocalist Raven Quinn to bring us to a close.
Dwellers have put forth a fine album here that fans of stoner rock should take pause here to appreciate. Gone is the towering psychedelia of songs like Vultures or Blackbird from the previous album. We now see them enter a new phase as they transition and branch away from the pack.
Standout Tracks: Spirit of the Staircase, Rare Eagle, Devoured by Lions
The 60's fuzzed out rock element is stone in this one with the Occult and Folk elements are what I hear the most. If you like bands that like to jam out like Traffic, Cream, Humble pie but then if you like newer bands like Sabbath Assembly, Beastmilk and Chelsea Wolfe. I really should not like this but I think this kind of organ infused Stoner material is really getting into to my marrow and infecting me. The vocalist is so much in that Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Mother Love Bone trip it really is what is drawing me in. I hear a lot of Monster Magnet as well another band I adore. Small Stone you keep getting me to like your bands. This needs to stop ok well maybe it doesn't good music is that good music...
- Clint Listing
What would a jam session circa mid-late 60’s, early 70’s sound like if Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, The Doors, Soundgarden, Grand Funk Railroad and Alice In Chains were all jamming in the same room with Glenn Danzig, Layne Staley and Chris Cornell trading vocals? Pagan Fruit takes the darkness from Sabbath, dark depressive tones of Alice, the trippy psychedelics of The Doors blending each into the same ever changing, mind apparatus expanding painters pallet. Let ‘the trip’ begin.
Salt Lake City “gut rock” trio, Dwellers is pleased to spread the seed of their sophomore full-length, Pagan Fruit, later this Spring via Small Stone Records.
Pagan Fruit follows in the still-echoing sonic shockwaves of their enthusiastically received 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri, which saw the newly-assembled trio of vocalist/guitarist Joey Toscano, bassist Dave Jones, and drummer Zach Hatsis bringing together their impressive musical credentials (Toscano with psych-metal’s Iota; Jones and Hatsis with doom/goth bandits, SubRosa) with staggeringly powerful and memorable results.
Creature Comfort begins the ride as the acid filled disco ball drops down spinning wild light and shapes around the room in a trippy 360 blend of 60’s and 70’s psychedelic classic hard rock. It mixes slow, relaxed jazz club sounds in a rock club atmosphere and guitars burning out chords and melody like a finely rolled joint. Totem Crawler, Return to the Sky and Rare Eagle have tastes of Sound Garden with broad, bluesy Sabbath brush strokes. Son of Raven takes a page from Mr. Morrison and the hazy shade of The Doors.
Devoured by Lions, is a trippy-ass rocker of harmonica induced road house blues. The sound of what would’ve happened if Cornell ever sang for Sabbath and Iommi/Butler played for Soundgarden. Spirit of the Staircase channels Layne Staley’s inner most turmoil. Call of the Hallowed Horn sounds off with disturbed guitars and organs of the damned, lost in the depths and murk of swampy soundscapes.
The terrible triplets are confident they’ve upstaged themselves with Pagan Fruit. An album that both exceeds the lysergic power chord trip initiated on Harakiri and expands the band’s collectively creative horizons into realms never before explored. Beyond the subliminal and multifaceted influences, picked up by discerning listeners on Good Morning Harakiri , ranging from Hawkwind to Soundgarden, Monster Magnet to Captain Beyond, Sons of Otis to the Screaming Trees, the songs found on Pagan Fruit reveal novel, dynamically varied musical touchstones as far reaching as vintage Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Goat’s Head Soup-period Stones.
- Mike Ritchie
If we’re judging an album by its cover, the sophomore effort from this Utah-based trio, Dwellers, sure looks like a Baroness album. Hey, as long as we’re talking Red or Blue, and not Yellow & Green, that’s OK with me.
Pagan Fruit paints with a similar palette to the Georgian no-longer-sludgesters. An amplified, mellow, country-blues-rock with just a bit of bite—not the kinda stuff you’d expect from Kiss Your Sister-Wife Country. Probably more Blue Record than anything…
But that’s not to say they sound exactly like Baroness. There’s a slightly more psychedelic flair to some of these numbers, befitting of a band that belongs on Small Stone. Their brushes adeptly sketch portraits of (newer) Earth with shades of White Hills, Across Tundras and Dead Meadows, blending them with the country-rock of Huron (Hamiltonians should know who they are) and maybe even a dash of Clutch… like, in the bottom right-hand corner of the canvas.
Most importantly, they didn’t used to be a killer progressive-sludge outfit that went soft. (Not that I’m still upset about that or anything.)
- Gruesome Greg
Dwellers play good, old fashioned classic rock that has the hippy vibe ingrained. Riffs are crisp, hazy and melodies infectious as one would expect.
There is a very heavy influence of the classics like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Cream to be found here, but with a slight added heaviness.
I found myself very addicted to this album in a similar fashion to the disc by Graveyard, Hisingen Blues.
The problem is holding its own next to the classics, which is a difficult task these two albums achieve quite well. There may not be as many innovative ideas as classics like Are You Experienced? or Houses of the Holy had at the time, but there is an up in the ante of harmonious riffs that are complemented by a nice organ in the background.
“Return to the Sky” is a highlight and really brings out the best groove from the band. The vocals are of the bluesy type that is very similar to the aforementioned Graveyard album. The tone of the music lends itself to being psychedelic at times.
The music’s heaviness is close to old Sabbath, but it carries more of the classic rock element with it. Recent material by Gypsyhawk would also constitute a good comparison of another band trying to recreate the classic feeling.
Don’t expect anything particularly original, but the performance of this old style is at least noteworthy, much like the Graveyard release. The injection of some major bluesy psychedelic portions from time to time breaks up the straightforward classic riffing at the right intervals.
The constant groove is ever-present and will enrapture the listener. Pagan Fruit is an exciting and moving release that is one of the surprise releases of the year so far.
- Adam M.
A glance at the almost Baroness reminiscent artwork and the album’s title, one could infer that the music about to be heard is of the more sludgy variety. Though elements of sludge can be heard at times, Dwellers do not reside strictly in the metal realm. On the contrary, the Salt Lake City trio play a psych-tinged style of rock that is executed with such pristine that hasn’t been heard in a rock album in quite some time. Pagan Fruit shows Dwellers churning out hazy-eyed guitar driven jams that casually stroll along with an eye toward desert and stoner rock and a classic rock swagger. The echoing, subtle psychedelic instrumentation is lined with touches of blues and hard rock, most notably seen in the opening track “Creature Comfort”. The addition of mellow, soaring vocals seem to just tie everything together beautifully. There is nothing too heavy or aggressive to be heard on Pagan Fruit. Even when the band do decide to take a more aggressive route, such as in the stoner-soaked “Devoured by Lions” and the doom-laden closer “Call of the Hallowed Horn”, Dwellers utilize just enough restraint to keep everything casual and catchy. There’s nothing super-flashy about Pagan Fruit on the whole, it’s just a solid rock album plain and simple. The majorly mellow atmosphere, with its glimpses of heaviness, are enough to attract listeners from opposite ends of the spectrum.
- Favorite Tracks: “Creature Comfort” and “Spirit of the Staircase”
- For Fans Of: The Black Angels, Crazy Horse, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Socks
- Rating 8/10
Having a lot of music at arm’s reach is not always a bad thing; of course it can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t want to miss something really good but at the same time searching for what to put on the stereo can be extremely rewarding. I like to browse through album covers and choose whatever seems to fit my mood and rare are the cases when I came up with something totally inappropriate. So, being in such state, I picked Salt Lake City’s DWELLERS second album, entitled “Pagan Fruit” for two reasons: a) the album title is interesting and b) the cover artwork has some 70s type psychedelia, so I was sure the music would be at this ballpark. Like I said, I am rarely wrong at my choices, so “Pagan Fruit” and DWELLERS’ Gut Rock (the band has invented this term) affirmed once again my gut feeling (no pun intended).
The slow tempo start, the echo/delay effect on the slightly distorted guitar and the almost Jazz groove of “Creature Comfort” smelled vintage from miles away but not in a pretentious way. The band sounds confident, so the music does not come as a cheap-copy/paste product but there is a lot of inspiration going on. The subtle and most natural drums and the Blues-type guitar lead action will sound perfect for summertime that has - at last - stepped on our US footstep. You may start thinking of the Swedish vintage Rock scene during the a little bit faster “Totem Crawler” or even throw some WOLFMOTHER in the mix, but no matter what, the result will be the same; analogue-sounding recording, smooth flow and killer high-hat action. Pay attention to the palm-muted riff and the bass rhythm as they lead to the awesome guitar solo and you will soon realize that you are listening with eyes closed. The Hammond-sounding keyboard action of “Return To The Sky”, the PINK FLOYD-esque “Son Raven” and the heavier church organ-driven “Call Of The Hallowed Horn” are the tracks that will stand out during the first album spins. Especially the eight and a half minutes long of the latter song will prove that DWELLERS can sound heavier without losing an inch of the vintage and psychedelic character of their music. The faster drum-lead part with an abundance of space-out effects come to climax this track while the Ken Hensley-esque keyboard will back me up when I say this is truly inspired music-making. And let’s not forget Raven Quinn’s guest backing vocals that give an extra push and add one more vintage flavor to this great track.
This album sounds straightforward during the first spins but I think it is a way to lure you in the world of DWELLERS where you can use a huge variety of colors to paint what you are seeing. Yeah, I may be wrong with choosing this band’s influences but this is the beauty of music; to stimulate your brain, lock your absolute focus and make you forget whatever may be troubling you. I hope there is a vinyl edition on the making because I’d love to blast “Pagan Fruit” through my speakers during one of those awesome summer nights.
- Dimitris Kontogeorgakos
Have you heard of the expression “sophomore slump”? Of course you have, especially if you are someone who follows the sports. The dreaded sophomore slump is when a second effort just isn’t as good as the initial one. When that rookie phenom becomes a bench player after setting the world on fire can be a pretty depressing display from the outside looking in. It happens to musicians as well. So, if you are a musical artist, how do you avoid the sophomore slump? It’s a pretty simple formula…you write a better record the second time around than you did the first time. Follow the lead of Salt Lake City’s Dwellers. They’ve pretty much written the blueprint for you.
This is not to say that Dwellers 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri, wasn’t a solid effort. It absolutely was. But the band’s follow-up album, Pagan Fruit, is an exercise in self-perfection as Dwellers takes their spacey, rock jams to ultimately new sonic heights. From the start Dwellers (there is no “The” people, so don’t add it), cheekily gave themselves the moniker “gut rock”, as in straight from the… Their bio states that ‘Any song that took longer than a single practice to rough out from start to finish was discarded.‘ Now, it can not be confirmed that they still subscribe to this songwriting high wire act, but if they do it makes these doom-filled, bluesy ramblings even more impressive. If this is an album that truly was born out of nothing but feeling, as if they were channeling some rock gods from ages past, trance-like, possessed by the spirits of our rock ancestors, then it would certainly explain the almost shamanistic vibe to this album. Follow them on their mystical journey because where Dwellers walk is a passageway to a spiritual realm where the soul of rock music itself lies tranquil beneath a haze of silky and powerful riffs.
Some celestial bodies spend their existence attracting others. Their gravitational pull luring in another and locking them into a never-ending orbit like a jealous lover, never letting go, no matter how much resistance they feel. Dwellers has manufactured the auditory equivalent, looping listeners endlessly around catchy hooks and tripped out psych rock elements. The only difference is that there will be no resistance for those lost in the endless orbit of stoner grooves that Dwellers produces. It’s like riding a train through a desert land, locked into the tracks laid before you, while you breath deep of the fresh air and allow the beauty of it all to wash over you. Each note being like each grain of desert sand, seemingly random yet perfectly in place all at the same time.
If this album was released in the 1990′s we’d be slapping the “stoner rock” label on it and that’s not a bad thing. Maybe we should, regardless of the decade. Certainly there are parallels to be drawn to the titans of that genre – Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Nebula, etc. Meanwhile the 1970′s are clearly all over this band’s collective record collection – Captain Beyond, 13th Floor Elevators, Can, Jefferson Airplane, etc. Yet despite the obvious influences, Dwellers has created an album that is utterly impossible to pigeonhole. Tracks like, “Rare Eagle” tear the lid off the psychedelics, ramble and rumble all over the psych rock landscape before coming to a crushingly fantastic crescendo. While a track like, “Son of Raven” or album opener, “Creature Comfort” tap dance around the psychedelia with a Blues ethos firmly in hand. It’s an album that would have a home in both the smoky bars on the wrong side of town and simultaneously the pillow covered floors of hippie shacks, replete with thrashing, naked limbs and bong haze so thick you could taste it.
Dwellers are the psych rock power trio of a new era and Pagan Fruit is, thus far, their magnum opus.
- Chip McCabe
A guitar line echoes, swells, is met with a quick wash of cymbal, and almost before you realize it, Dwellers have eased you into the pulsing “Creature Comfort,” the opener of their second album for Small Stone, Pagan Fruit. The Salt Lake City, Utah, three-piece have refined the stylistic ideas put forth on their 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (CD review here, vinyl review here), and the result is a molten nine tracks/48 minutes of graceful, patient, heavy psychedelic blues. Front to back, it is neither haphazard nor overly constructed feeling, guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano (ex-Iota) leading the sway with the rhythm section of bassist Dave Jones and drummer Zach Hatsis (both also of SubRosa) helping to steer the material as much as ground it. Songs like the cello-infused “Spirit of the Staircase” drive into exploratory vibes, spaced out and ethereal, but there’s a melancholy at work underneath that, in combination with a more confident vocal and instrumental approach, gives Pagan Fruit a genuine sense of consciousness. It holds to these even in its most swaggering moments, say “Rare Eagle” on side A, “Devoured by Lions” or the penultimate “Waiting on Winter,” and finds its most vivid emotional ground in its moments of pleading, as on the rolling second cut, “Totem Crawler,” with its chorus, “Oh, my queen/To whom I crawl,” or the CD centerpiece “Son of Raven,” which begs, “Come home,” in repeated fashion. These songs are a far cry from any sort of toughguy mentality or dudely let’s-get-drunk-on-beer-and-write-songs-about-whiskey posturing, and ultimately it’s that sincere vibe paired with the memorable songwriting itself that makes Pagan Fruit such a satisfying, engaging experience.
It has its raucous stretches, and a steady flourish of organ from Jones and synth, vibraphone and Rhodes from Hatsis adds depth to the arrangements, and while its songs hit with no shortage of impact – recorded by Toscano‘s former Iota bandmate Andy Patterson, Hatsis‘ kick feels like it’s coming from inside your brain — Pagan Fruit is not a bombastic album. In pacing and execution it is patient and carefully done, a song like “Return to the Sky” finding its soul as much in the raindrop melody of its keys as in Toscano‘s lyrics. Guitar and bass tones are warm, perhaps most of all on the two longer cuts, “Rare Eagle” (7:10) and the closer “Call of the Hallowed Horn” (8:33). The first of the two, fourth of the total nine songs and likely the side A/B split, departs in its midsection to a psychedelic jam with subdued vocals over top, but picks up into insistent riffing, a space-rocking push emerging as organ, soloing and effects are layered in. They jam “Rare Eagle” to its finish, leading fluidly into the album-highlight “Son of Raven,” but “Call of the Hallowed Horn,” which brings in goth-rock singer-songwriter Raven Quinn for a guest vocal spot, reinterprets its chorus over its own sprawling, slow-rolling psych jam, bookending the song and album alike and showing Dwellers‘ care toward varying structures. Of course, by then, the band has done that for 40 minutes, so maybe the point is made, but they underline it well anyhow with the finale, further variety arriving earlier through elements like Toscano‘s harmonica on the swing-heavy “Devoured by Lions,” the steadily shifting key sounds or even just the changes of mood from song to song, all of which remains impeccably arranged and executed with a natural, organic feel, making non-traditional vibes and approaches sound immediately familiar.
Not only familiar, but wistful, and intricate, and — again — heavy. Pagan Fruit benefits from both tonal and emotional weight, and while the chorus, “Cannot deny/What I am under the sun/Cannot deny/My creature his comforts,” of “Creature Comfort” hints at some sleazy analogy, the song successfully toes that line in a manner of no less artistry than the labial cover of the album might indicate. Lady-voodoo as a theme derived from classic blues? Yeah, maybe, but Dwellers fit all this well into their approach, and “Creature Comfort” is consistent with the rest of the record sound-wise if not completely in line in lyrical agency. For initial listens, what’s important is to go into Dwellers‘ second offering not expecting a riotous, brash collection, but understanding that Pagan Fruit has movement and depth in kind, and that its appeal comes not just from its instrumental intricacy — though Jones‘ bassline in “Totem Crawler” is enough argument for that on its own — but from its overarching spirit, downtrodden but still exploratory. While they accomplish this, and while Pagan Fruit taken as a whole comes across as the realization of the aesthetic Good Morning Harakiri put forth, one of the most enjoyable aspects of it is how unsettled Dwellers still sound. They’re confident and firm in their approach, while also defining what that approach actually is. Add to that the fact that Pagan Fruit comes just two years after their first record — as opposed to that one, which came four after Iota‘s 2008 swansong Tales – and what you come out with is a portrait of an encouraging progression under way. The results here are encompassing and periodically brilliant, cohesive and stylized in such a way as to belong solely to Dwellers. If Good Morning Harakiri was the album that brought Toscano out of Iota‘s shadow, then Pagan Fruit is Dwellers as a complete unit demonstrating to listeners that they have something to offer distinct in heavy rock. It will be exciting to learn what they do with that for their third outing, but don’t take that to be an understatement of Pagan Fruit on its own merits. The moody songs of praise Dwellers present here are undeniably fit for worship. Also vinyl.
I have to admit that a label like Small Stone Records are doing darn well this year. After the disks seen here as "Spirit Knife" Swedish Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus and awaited his countrymen work Greenleaf , who presumably already forward as one of the best jobs stoner of the year, there now can sum this album American debut of these called "Pagan Fruit".
They are Dwellers , a trio of Salt Lake City who had already left stunned half the world with this EP two years ago called "Good Morning Harakiri" . The band acts as a spacecraft that carries television idle with influences from the past to guide you on your own path to the future.
The three members of the band are both multi-instrumentalists and vocalists work as "Pagan Fruit" is now on sale from yesterday. This debut is divided into 9 rebozan authenticity authentic gems shining with light.
"Creature Comfort" offers us the best version of his guitarist Joey Toscano , dragging his verses of the milder form with those fingers tease and bend the notes of his guitar as if seek the expertise of a magician obsessed.
This pagan fruit reveals a great dynamism by its three components containing the far-reaching musical touch like an illustrious tribute to Neil Young . A real mouthful banned that will make their sweet juice and sinful scroll your chin with reflective melodies inspire a feeling rarely seen this year.
That lysergic trip already started in his short chord is "Pagan Fruit" . An energy that will leave you intoxicated from its early stages. "Totem Crawler" and the huge "Return The Sky" piscodélicos continue these sounds, I entrelazándolo passages more blues beginning to have an effect begins to be most hallucinogen.
The acid rock of yesteryear is the best advertising you can have "Pagan Fruit" , gravity and energy showing the instrumental section of the band is only up to the voice of Toscano exuding submission and rage at the same time. " Rare Eagle " is a somewhat longer issue seven minutes of pure happiness, you have to tip your hat once again with Joey Toscano makes his guitar bleed instrumental massacre after offering here Dwellers .
"Son Of Raven" is postulated as another favorite of the album, once again impressed by his vocals and instrumental diversity that act as the echo of a desperate tramp. The vocal style of this work is cold, always sung in low frequencies, there just screams elegance coming out through the speakers. It is as if we took a song from Mastodon and Alice In Chains and we removed the best of each reducing its overall volume.
Catchy melodies of "Pagan Fruit" continuing their eternal addiction imposed by these magicians who came from nothing and have left a huge rarity grandstanding. "Waiting On Winter" appears once again as a tangled mesh guitarwork guided Drums Zach Hatsis who commands this frantic gallop. The viscous "Call Of The Hallowed Horn" closes this musical epic to let suspended in time with accelerations and decelerations throughout the journey.
Sovereign album you will not lack anything; harmonicas, organs, pianos, synthesizers, tambourines and cellos, all under the cover of a heavy rock in its most modern essence. Collaborations Genevieve Smith with his cello in the song "Spirit Of The Staircase" or additional voice Raven Quinn in the final "Call Of The Hallowed Horn", plus the wonderful artwork of Adrian Brouchy of Coven Illustration , are some of the notes but it should be noted for great proverb of contemporary music.
Dwellers have manufactured their original sound taking their styles from the distant 60's, through the proto rock of the 70s and that mixed with the grunge and stoner 90. in all styles and winks, residing as a general feeling retro as modern production is fascinating and lyrics sung to paganism, occultism or the mythological themes. Little more can be added to this album that I have not boasted before. Just listen and let yourself be seduced by its charm.
- Rating: 8.4
- Ruben Herrera
Not that you asked, fair reader, but here’s a one-line autobiography: I am a person who, among other things, occasionally writes about music for various public outlets. Here’s one very important addendum, though:
I am not doing this for you.
Not really, at least. And I’m not trying to be dismissive or confrontational, either. It’s just that this thing I do sometimes? Well, I do it because I like doing it. It’s a primarily selfish, even narcissistic thing.
The only reason I bring it up here is because it’s also worth remembering: All these bands you love — bands whose records you clutch to your body with a desperate, impossible, ridiculous, admirable love — they aren’t playing for you, either.
More to the immediate point, then: Dwellers are not playing for you. Pagan Fruit, the Salt Lake City group’s glistening new album, is not a statement carefully crafted to intervene strategically in some meta-musical conversation. These songs are not rejoinders to anyone else’s songs, nor ciphers to be deployed in the service of my own dime-store epistemology.
I’m writing this thing that is not about you because I need to remind myself that this album is not about me.
Dwellers’ gloriously organic fusion of recent Swedish analog amp worship (e.g., Graveyard, Witchcraft, Kadaver, Spiders) with the sun-bleached, tumbleweed Americana of Across Tundras is not a sly nudge to our indefatigable editor’s claim (re: Iceland) that globalization has yet to erase all pockets of regional curiosity. The raucous yet refined swagger of Pagan Fruit was almost assuredly not designed to thumb its nose at the pedant’s game of “metal/not metal,” though Dwellers’ rhythm section are well-versed in tapdancing the hell out of those bothersome fence posts, having spent time in fellow SLC travelers SubRosa. This excellent album — this transparently tactile album, this rambunctiously Western album — is really none of these damn things that I keep trying to make it be.
It is, in the final analysis, a collectively selfish conjuring by its makers: “Hey! Look what we can do!”
And friends — you who are here for your own reasons — let me tell you that this is as it was, and should be, and will be again. The nine songs on Pagan Fruit are stuffed to the absolute seams with endlessly warm tones to torpedo your torpor. The band’s effortless blending of heavy blues riffing, Kylesa-lite stomping and hollering, piquantly soulful vocals, and concisely mind-expanding psych excursions means the album should easily appeal to fans of other modern keepers of the peculiar soul such as Giant Squid, Grayceon, and Royal Thunder. Hell, there’s even some stuff on here that sounds like the Murder City Devils getting punched in their noses in slow-motion and feeling super chill about it.
What ends up defining the album is the careful balancing of mountain-grade power trio sonics and composition rife with inspired instrumental accents including cello, harmonica, and various organs. “Return to the Sky” is a real brain-fryer, due to the way its superlative vibraphone vamping gives the song the feeling of Bobby Hutcherson supporting Neil Young in the mid-’70s. The album closer, “Call of the Hallowed Horn,” is another live wire flicked right at the listener’s amygdala: It opens and closes with a desert Sabbath psych session, but then the middle section opens up into a beautifully nervy solo fugue. It’s one of those rare jams that lasts nearly nine minutes, but could easily have carried on for 20 without drawing complaint.
Because these songs were not written for you, you have the freedom to make them useful. Take them with you or leave them behind; let them speak to you in their own language, or translate them to your own tongue; sing them alone, or sing them with friends. That’s the kind of radical individualism worth building a community around.
- Dan Lawrence
Salt Lake City rockers DWELLERS have made their triumphant return – and man, do these guys know how to make an entrance.
With their sophomore effort Pagan Fruit, Dweller’s secret recipe of stoner, acid, doom, psychedelic, and Southern rock is better and more refined than ever. Building on the solid sonic roots they established in 2012 with their debut album Good Morning Harakiri, the auditory experience of Pagan Fruit has been expanded into a soundscape that is equal parts futuristic and nostalgic. The album definitely charts new territory for the Utah-based three piece, while still paying just the right amount of homage to their previous release.
The opening track “Creature Comfort” begins by easing the listener into the dark, smoky atmosphere that sets the tone for the album as a whole- and climaxes at a staggering guitar solo that is as bluesy as it is heavy. Dwellers front man Joey Toscano (formerly of Iota) delivers many tasty guitar performances throughout the record and never disappoints with his strong, Jim Morrison-esque vocals.
Although there isn’t a sub-par tune on this album, standout tracks include “Rare Eagle”, “Devoured by Lions”, “Totem Crawler”, and the utterly epic, eight-and-a-half minute jam session “Call of the Hallowed Horn” which closes the record. Drummer Zach Hatsis and bassist Dave Jones (both formerly of doom rock outfit SubRosa) bring the absolute best of their A-games in their respective departments (with Hatsis particularly obliterating his drum kit on “Call of the Hallowed Horn”.) It’s clear that collectively, Dwellers have taken their musicianship and songwriting skill to the next level- and that growth is apparent on Pagan Fruit.
As far as influences go, traces of early Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, and Queens of the Stone Age all make themselves known here; but to be clear, this album stands its ground firmly with a sound all its own.
The second album by the Salt Lake City band deftly walks a tightrope between psychedelic rock, desert rock and doom, the music grounded by distorted, Crazy Horse-derived jams, which I’m always a sucker for. Rustic and hazy, yet with an unusual commitment to genuine singing, it’s a smart blend of heavy rock and Americana.
- Adrien Begrand
Dwellers – Pagan Fruit – I’ve been looking forward to this release for a really long time. I knew it was going to be good, I just had no idea how good it was actually going to be. One of the things I noticed with the album is that is starts off slowly and as the album progresses, it gets faster and heavier. The sound is covered with deep and dark overtones reaching down into Alice in Chains like territory at times. It’s a fucking brilliant album front to end. It’s out soon from Small Stone Records.
- Bill Goodman
Dwellers are a band from Salt lake City, Utah that plays a psychedelic form of metal/rock and this is a review of their 2014 album "Pagan Fruit" which will be released by Small Stone.
Psychedelic sounds start off the album along with some blues rock elements and all of the musical instruments have a very powerful sound to them and melodic vocals start to kick in a s well as bringing in guitar slides, once the guitar leads start to kick in the classic rock influences really start dominating the album.
As the album progresses more grunge and proto metal elements found their way into the music along with some 60's acid rock being updated for the modern day and on some of the later tracks you can hear some ethnic music sounds being added into certain sections of the recording along with some songs that are very long and epic in length.
On the later tracks the band starts adding in harmonicas, organs, pianos, synths, tambourines, and cellos with their heavy and hard rock sound which also starts having a more modern day feeling as time goes on by along with a small dose of punk rock influences and the last track evokes a very heavy doom metal like feeling.
Dwellers have an original sound on this album which they label as gut rock, and they take 60's and 70's rock and proto metal and mix them in with some grunge and stoner rock to give the music a very retro yet modern feeling, the production sound s very professional and the lyrics cover paganism, occultism and mythology themes.
In my opinion Dwellers are a very great sounding psychedelic rock/metal band and if you are a fan of this musical genre, you should check out this album. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Totem Crawler" "Son Of Raven" "Spirit Of the Staircase" and "Call Of The Hallowed Horn". 8 out of 10.
This is gonna be good. Salt Lake City based trio of rockers come back with this fine sophomore release and it’s something you could be hearing in the next smokey tavern you visit off of some desolate highway in Mississippi. The southern twang, the melodic progression and the classic rock n roll sound gives these guys a unique sound without being overly cheesy or incredibly annoying. This is far from the case. This music is a toe tapping, beer drinking good time.
First attracted by the artwork and the title, Pagan Fruit just reached out and grabbed me before I even pressed play. Once I started the album, I just couldn’t turn away. In fact, I turned it up and enjoyed every single note that was played. It’s rare for me to find this calm and collected music so damn great. Something about this just takes over me and I can’t get enough of it. Each chord, each riff, even every string bend is necessary and magical. The drum groove as well as the bass playing is just mind bending stuff. It sucks you in, churns you around and then spits you out. Captivating.
Pagan Fruit is consistent, it’s groove and it’s chill. The vocal style is sung in a low manner. No screams are heard and no overly turned up gain is blaring through the speakers. Yet, even with things kept down, it’s still really really heavy in a completely different meaning. It’s like taking a Mastodon track, an Alice of Chains track and then taking everything that is good about it and turning down the gain and overall volume. You still get catchy tunes, amazing groove and quality music playing from every single musician.
There is a certain underlying genius within this music. Everything is just so graceful on each and every song. The technique used on each instrument and every added effect just makes this album flow so perfectly. I hear many influences from all over the place: southern rock, sludge, progressive rock and post-rock. Even though the band proclaims to be “gut rock”, Dwellers seemingly and flawlessly create something that is murky as mud yet also as clear as water.
I’ve tried to find something that is bad, wrong or not fitting within this album but Pagan Fruit is an amazing album. Coming from nowhere and blowing me away like this is a rarity. These guys are wizards and the new album just took over my mind and soul. Pagan Fruit is solid, it’s delicious and it’s going in my nominee pile for album of the year.
4.5 out of 5
Salt Lake City-based rockers Dwellers are back with their sophomore effort Pagan Fruit after slapping the world awake with their accomplished debut Good Morning Harakiri. It is a stunning body of work that, while bearing influences from the past, charts its own course to the future. The aim is to snatch you from your mundane existence, teleport you into an idling spaceship, and rocket you into an alien musical experience. And I dare say the talented trio of vocalists and multi-instrumentalists achieved their lofty aim. Scheduled for release on Small Stone on May 6th, Pagan Fruit is a worthy addition to any rock-head’s collection. When you get the album, load these nine gems on your iPod, snap on your headphones, and see where you end up.
The album introduces itself at walking pace with a lethargic guitar riff signaling the start of “Creature Comfort”. Joey Toscano drags his verses out with the roar of an awakening lion and eventually allows his guitar do the singing for the last two and a half minutes of the song. Not that you’ll mind – Joey’s fingers tease and bend the notes out of the guitar with the mastery of an obsessed wizard. As your mind is still smarting from the blazing solo, the more energetic “Totem Crawler” jumps off the blocks.Although the tempo never gets anywhere near that of a Blink 182 banger, Dwellers maintain true to their self-concocted ‘gut-rock’ subgenre, a mélange of acid rock from yesteryears. There is gravity and energy in the instruments that form the canvas on which this ode to the “queen to whom I crawl” is painted; Toscano’s vocals managing to exude submission and fury at the same time.
Zach Hatsis’ drumming is reduced to labored thumping on sighing cymbals in “Return To The Sky” providing the platform for Toscano to drone on about the afterlife and how he can help you get there. Eventually tortured guitar riffs rise to shred your eardrums, leaving them alive just long enough to catch the flying chords of “Rare Eagle”. This eagle seems to soar forever on the whopping seven minutes it is allocated, but they are nothing if not seven minutes of pure bliss. To be honest, I love how Joey takes his time to let his guitar bleed after mercilessly slaughtering the instrument in ecstatic self-expression.
“Son of Raven”, a personal favorite, comes swaddled in trembling Rhodes and generally impresses with its instrumental diversity. Joey’s voice echoes like the voice of a desperate wanderer trapped among towering canyons. Out of his words, sometimes screamed, sometimes groaned, floats the image of a scavenger eyeing the weary traveler hungrily.
The tempo of the album is raised a few miles an hour on “Waiting on Winter” which presents itself as a tangled mesh of guitarwork guided by breathless drums. The cut gallops to a frantic conclusion, pursued by frenzied guitars and Joey’s nightmarish yells. Pagan Fruit closes with the trio returning to their comfort zone on the viscous closer “Call of the Hallowed Horn”. You feel suspended in time as the track speeds up and slows down before bringing the CD to a composed finish.
Most definitely 4.5 skulls out of 5!
- Phil Kimm
If I had to guess what BB King’s favorite rock band would sound like, I’d say The Dwellers would be that band. The album title was well chosen as their music evokes images of forested glens and shafts of sunlight through leaves, sending us on a magnificent trip without the use of any mind-altering chemicals. Bluesy and soulful, tracks like Creature Comfort, Son of Raven and Call of the Hallowed Horn are rich in texture and deep in color and meaning. These guys are like alien overlords of rock whose only goal is to conquer us with the atomic might of their music. I, for one, will be glad to take them to my leader as long as they promise to play a full set of rocking tunes when we arrive.
- Jim Dodge
Equally beloved and maligned, the whole stoner rock thing always seems on the verge of being done to death, but then a band comes along that reminds us why the style was cool in the first place. Cue Pagan Fruit (Small Stone), the second album from Salt Lake City’s Dwellers. The mindgames of former members of Iota and SubRosa, the record filters doomy blues rock through a blotter of shimmering desert psych, balancing Joey Toscano’s skilled axework with songwriting stepped up several notches from the group’s 2012 debut. Check out “Call of the Hallowed Horn,” “Rare Eagle” and “Return to the Sky” for some nicely illicit pleasure spikes.
- Michael Toland