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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Sixty Watt Shaman

Seed of Decades

Review by Mike Korn

Sixty Watt Shaman really had me going for a while. They had me thinking that this was going to be one of the best heavy blues rock records ever, but they blew their wad. After starting magnificently, their debut record "Seed of Decades" ran out of gas in the second half, landing them in the "promising" category instead of the "Gods" category. This ain't bad for a first attempt. But as is so often the case these days, the record is just too damn long. 14 tracks clocking in at well over an hour. If it would have been 10 tracks at about 45 minutes, this would have been a better record.

Sixty Watt Shaman play a kind of southern-fried, boogie-based rough and ready metal that is becoming increasingly popular. Corrosion of Conformity is definitely a band that SWS draws inspiration from. Other comparisons can be made to Down and Soil. When these guys have their groove going, they can really cook. They have a great vocalist in Dan Kerzwich, who has a powerful, raw voice that often sounds like a hillbilly Burton Cummings. He's a real asset. Lead guitarist Joe Selby is also a find...he lets rip with some killer bluesy soloing even during the duller tracks. The line up is rounded out by Rev Jim Forrester on bass guitar, and C.J. Dukehart on drums and percussion. Well, these guys have a strong foundation to build on and the talent is there but they need a lot more discipline before they unleash a true classic on the public.

There's a lot of the 60's in his approach but the band as a whole has a modern sound due to a crisp and clear production job. My advice to Sixty Watt Shaman is to trim the fat. Lean and mean is the way for this band to go, instead of bloated and plodding.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fear Death By Water
 A great opener, this one is based on a killer rocking riff with a heavy blues feel. Kerzwich's vocals are excellent. This cut is good enough to go head to head with anything by COC. It is like Sabbath covering Skynyrd.
Seed of Decades
Another bluesy track that subtly increases in intensity as it goes along, this cut includes fine southern string bending by Selby.
Poor Robert Henry
One of the best damn blues-and-metal tunes I have ever heard, this one begins quietly with muted guitar and increases in heaviness until it reaches some bludgeoning riffs. It is a lways tasteful and accessible, with good smoky vocals. By the time I heard this, I was thinking these guys were the goods.
The Devil In the Details Pt 1 & 2
Two tracks in one, the first section is fast and aggressive, with speedy distorted riffing. It breaks down into a slower, bluesier mode in the second half.
Low Earth Orbit
Kind of a trippy blues rock cut, Selby's soloing saves it from being average.
One More Time
Short and sweet, this is a punchy, hard-hitting cut with different vocals. If Kerzwich was singing this, I'd be surprised, as the vocals are more nasal and "snottier"
Roll The Stone
Some pretty mandolin plucking opens this one, conjuring up images of Led Zeppelin. A mellower track, this one is good if you're in a slow mood, not so hot if you're looking for rocking.
Red Colony
This is kind of a spacy, droning track, with a heavy, almost psychedelic riff. Monotony was beginning to set in on this one,as the pace begins to plod.
Rumor Den
With a cut based on some pretty non-descript, bluesy meandering, they are losing their grip by this point.
Stone's Throw Away
Another mid-paced bluesy stomp, this is another track where the excellent, clear lead soloing adds interest. Joe Selby is a man who's listened to Mountain, Quicksilver Messenger Service, etc.,that's for sure.

Busy Dying
Plodding boredom, some female vocals try to add color but this is pretty monotonous stuff.
New Trip
This one is just about the same as the above track but with a few unique touches to help. The second half of the cut features extended solo bass work from Rev. Jim Forrester and a chorus of chanting American Indians(or so it sounded). The chanting seemed dumb at first but actually added to the hypnotic feel of this song.
I've Been Down
This is a real poor way to end what started as a very promising album. Good slide guitar begins it, but then the same riff is pounded into the ground. Even Kerzwich's vocals can't save this one. Why was this track even on the album?
Napster, LLC
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