Produced by Chris Fielding and HookahTheFuzz. Mastered by Chris Fielding. Recorded at Foel Studios. All music and lyrics written by HookahTheFuzz.
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Let’s get the name out of the way first. The most immediate question is HookahTheFuzz (all one word, camelCase) or Hookah The Fuzz? Who knows, but I’ve gone with the way the band spells it on everything I’ve found online so far. The second question is: what does it even mean? I know that a hookah is a Persian device for vaporizing and smoking flavoured tobacco, but “[…] the Fuzz”?!
Anyway, this is one of those albums that I’ve put off reviewing simply so I could spend a few more days listening to it. That has to be a good sign, right?
Right! This is a great album. I’ve played this disc over and over and over again since I first listened to it.
The most obvious comparison is with the kings of prog metal themselves Dream Theater but there are other influences in there too. I can hear elements of artists as diverse as Lamb of God, Mike Patton (Faith No More) and Frank Zappa. Sometimes in the same song.
The album opens with a cute keyboard riff, like pan pipes. It’s most uncharacteristic of the rest of the album and quite misleading as an album opener. Disillusion indeed. But soon enough the guitars and vocals kick in and redeem the song. About 7′ 30″ there’s a fantastically moving guitar solo that I could listen to again and again (and do!).
“The girl do voodoo” opens in a very Dream Theater ballad-like way: tinkling piano, laid back drums, arpeggios aplenty. But about a minute and a half later things start taking a more aggressive direction before the vocalist starts shouting “IT’S FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE FUCKING MORNING!” To be honest that jars with me. I’m not against swearing per se but even within the context of this song it just doesn’t seem necessary and doesn’t scan as well as “it’s four o’clock in the morning” would. But it’s a mild niggle as the rest of the song is great with proggy twists and turns aplenty. Five minutes in and there’s a tremendously fun chugging guitar riff that I can’t help but smile listening to.
“Skin and bones” opens with a ripping Lamb of God-like riff that satisfyingly resurfaces through out the track. Once the vocals being though the song sounds like a track from a Devin Townsend-era Steve Vai album. This is another superb track where the lyrics take on an instrumental quality of their own, with the shapes of the words being spit out adding to the colour and texture of the song.
“Preachers suck more…” is perhaps one of the most experimental and “out-there” prog tracks. It’s another meandering song in the key of Dream Theater.
The opening thirty seconds of “Camp refoogee” is great fun with triplets cutting across the main riff a couple of times. I can’t help nodding my head along in time. It’s perhaps one of my least songs on the album, but it is still interesting enough with enough dynamics and variety to prevent me from dismissing it entirely.
“Munchkin fever” begins quite aggressively but like snow being blown in the wind suddenly takes another direction for a minute. Just over halfway and an emotive guitar solo takes centre-stage before everything quietens down for some drums and keyboard mellowness. The closing minute is quite, quite beautiful.
“Addict” has a gentle, almost reflective beginning that reminded me a little of Pantera’s cover of the Black Sabbath tune “Planet Caravan”. The guitar bends around a minute in take the song to another level. Then oddly, around 3’00” the song takes a side step into reggae (?!) — now that’s progressive!
Album-closer “Hang the hooker” is pure Dream Theater. By now there aren’t too many surprises but the quality of both writing and playing is still high that it’s a delight to listen to.
This is another great example of don’t judge an album by its cover or indeed the band name. I’ve listened to this album more or less exclusively for two weeks now. I’m really impressed. More like this please.
Had it not been for a few niggles here and there, and a bit of repetition towards the end, then I’m sure I would have scored this with a full 10/10. As it is it gets a hearty 9.5.
Review score: 95%