With The Three Kings, Dead Meadow is hoping to, like, evoke the novel, uncanny mix of concert footage and fantasy sequences Led Zeppelin put out with The Song Remains the Same. And like The Song Remains the Same, The Three Kings is accompanied by a soundtrack of the same name.
The DVD portion of The Three Kings is described as a “stunning mix of fantasy film and multi-camera live convert footage.” Fortunately or unfortunately, I was only provided with the soundtrack of the film.
To consider Dead Meadow as stoner rock is, well, probably pretty accurate. With lots of long-winded chunks of 70s fuzz rock and lethargic, tedious vocals from Jason Simon, it can be a little hard to get into the Washington, DC rockers. It could be said, not that I’m recommending this sort of thing, that their music is better served under the influence of some sort of substance that could be, like, rolled into something resembling a cigarette and then smoked.
Dead Meadow’s The Three Kings is mostly taken from a hometown gig from the last date of their tour in support of Old Growth. It also includes five new studio tracks produced by bassist Steven Kille.
The live tracks sound crisp and clean, for the most part, but the band’s weakness for hazy orgasms of stoned ecstasy can slow things down quite a bit. Simon’s insistence on sounding like a high politician reading the phone book doesn’t exactly help matters either, dude, and his tendency to trail off stops being hip and starts getting old.
Of course, Dead Meadow doubtlessly has their fans and they’ll probably be pretty dazed by the band’s psychedelic festivities. But there’s little on The Three Kings that will win over new fans, even if concepts of peripatetic holy mystics and biblical Bedouins sound persuasive for the moment.
As mentioned, the recording quality of the live tracks is pretty impressive. The two opening cuts, “Til Kingdom Come” and “Between Me and the Ground,” almost sound identical, though, and carry the same limping tempo.
“That Old Temple,” one of the new studio cuts, is the first single from the record. Its desert-soaked tone almost works, but the clattering drum fills and Simon’s persistence on sounding as stoned as humanly possible starts to dry up quickly, man.
Other tracks don’t do much to further the case. “The Narrows” is eight minutes of dawdling, unknowable mumbling interrupted by a respectable guitar solo that sadly disintegrates into nothing after building some solid momentum. And “Darlin’” actually almost sets a different pace for, like, a minute before heading down the same old recognizable lazy stoner path.
I like a lot of stoner rock. The down-tuned web of Sabbath-style mega-riffs and the slow burn of grungy goodness appeals to me. Unfortunately, Dead Meadow seems languid rather than motivated and the resulting recording is dull and predictable. While the film might be a stunning delight, the soundtrack simply leaves a lot to, like, be desired.