Going on nigh 15 years now, Raging Slab predate the whole "stoner rock" trend that's all the rage with CMJ and others with their fingers on the pulse of what's "hip." Thing is, drop The Dealer into said tools' drinks and it's likely to go straight over their heads, namely because what Raging Slab do – or, more accurately, have always done – isn't hot-topic belabored or cloying pastiche, the quartet dependably and barnstormingly getting down to business, that of which being balls-out rockin'. Marketing trends be damned, The Dealer is the Slab's best-sounding, most-engaging slab in many years (at least four since the largely misunderstood Monster Magnetisms of 1996's Sing Monkey Sing), guaranteed to incite rapture in those intrepid souls who still have an ear for quality and time-honored decibels in the grandest of r n' r traditions, the record really mixing it up in terms of tempo, mood, hooks, dynamics, versatility… basically, anything and everything Slab's enviably capable of within the course of an album, and more so, a career. Southern-fried boogie rubbing greasy, scaly elbows with stoned-cold doom, Stooges shock therapy with spiraling space-rock, MC5 rabble-rousing with barren barroom balladry, The Dealer could well be a veritable "best of" covering one mere year in many, many fruitful ones. And if someone doesn't soon stand up and declare slide guitarist Elyse Steinman a god (witness "Chasin' The Dragon" and fly away a happy customer), then there's truly no justice in this crap world.
Tee Pee, PO Box 20307, New York, NY 10009-9991, http://www.teepeerecords.com
Nathan T. Birk