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Dog Faced Gods Stoned Council

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Wednesday, July 20, 2005 @ 1:14 AM

Voodoo Nation/AGU Music

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Well, I haven’t heard this one before…

In case you were wondering, this version of Dog Faced Gods has nothing to do with the Swedish band of the same name that more than a couple of metal fans out there hold dear--instead, this hearty group hails from the San Manuel Indian Reservation in California. Hell, DFG’s vocalist is named is Raymond Galvan Whiteowl for cryin’ out loud, and the pictures in the liner notes look something like Los Lobos meets Lil’ Homies meets Motorhead. Yes, of course, you just know in a situation like that, someone’s sporting a Raider’s jersey, but at least it isn‘t that fat ass Warren Sapp’s, so I won’t hold that against them. On the surface, this appears to be an interesting point of origination for a metal band, but biographical information only goes so far--everyone knows that the music is what eventually dictates success or lack there of, so in order for you to make an informed decision, all you have to do is sit back, pass the pipe around and take a listen.

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DFG’s sound possesses a vast array of influences, and if you’ve heard that line a million times, raise your hand. The difference here is that this band’s sound really is diverse and isn’t bashful about wearing their influences on their collective sleeve even if some of their inspiration comes from genres or groups that aren‘t exactly de rigueur these days such as P.O.D. Ironically enough, it is this musical diversity that has also caused many to criticize the group for pandering to all audiences and, in effect, trying to be too much to too many. Basically, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t want any chocolate in their peanut butter, you’d be well served to move on because this group is the equivalent of chocolate, syrup, Skittles, and Pop Rocks in the proverbial peanut butter---you know it will be interesting, you just hope it doesn’t taste like shit.

Stoned Council begins with “Desperately” which is mostly a straight up rocker that lets the listener know that band does indeed possess above average musicianship and vocals, but the song itself isn’t exactly memorable. “Good Life” takes it up a notch and serves as a lead in to their single, “Bring Me Down,” which combines some nu metal elements with slower breaks. It’s always rather tenuous business figuring out why a record label or band came to decide which song was going to be one that gets the support of the label, and that is especially true here. Part of the reason why their pick was perplexing is that the next selection, “Earth is Hell,” may be the best tune on the disc. The lyrics initially detail all that is wrong with the human condition before Whiteowl implores the listener to “keep your heart open and stay strong in your mind.”

The pace picks up again with “Run, Run” and is followed by the inexplicably titled “Intro” which is actually track six and doesn’t really appear to have much to do with the next song either. The most disconcerting issue with this though is that “Intro” would have been a great way to have started the album--certainly better than “Desperately.” What follows is the obligatory rap/metal ode to ganja entitled, “Water Pipe Bong.” This song is actually funny on a variety of levels--the best lyric though is the one that goes, “I love the feeling that it gives, I even smoke it with my kids.” Nice. Boy, that takes me back to Mayberry and the days when I’d just sit back with Aunt Bea and Andy Griffith and blaze up fatty while watching the Cubs on T.V. Those were the days…

“But Me” is a kind of unremarkable tune that hearkens back to their pervasive rap-type influence, but the song that follows-- “Time is Standing Still” possesses a real rock chorus and serves as a more than apt ode to the darkness of the end. “Save Me” features some of the “Snakeyez” Torres’ best guitar work before the song itself degenerates into generic shouting. When said shout outs consist of the question “will I ever fit in?” the festivities kind of take on that whole “grown, tatted men lamenting their childhood” Korn type of vibe. The subsequent offering is entitled “I Stand Alone” which is basically a tired sentiment attached to a good song.

The last three tunes on Stoned Council are interesting in different ways. The thirteenth song is a cover of (please, no “Run To the Hills” jokes either) Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” This was a great song when Skynyrd performed it, and it remains a great song on this recording. I just wish someone would take the fucking chorus off that damn beer commercial. “No One Left” is a ballad that captures the desperation discussed in the majority of this record, but it doesn’t resort to playing the childhood card, and is ultimately convincing. The last offering is a rap version of “Stand Alone” which is a surprising choice considering most bands previously aligned with nu metal are running from it like a fat guy from a plate of tofu.

Stoned Council isn’t the type of debut that can be considered an instant classic like Skid Row or Appetite For Destruction, but then again, few are. What this record does process are more than a few quality tracks that seem to promise more to come in the future. The direction DFG eventually ends up going may be up for debate, but my guess is that they will eventually settle into a more traditional metal/rock direction, and if they are able to do so without falling prey to the lyrical clichés of the genre, they may be capable of producing their own classic album sometime in the future….oh yeah, no Raiders jerseys either---at least not Warren Sapp’s.

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