Bart M. : German stoners Plainride's sophomore album is titled 'Life On Ares' and it hits the shelves three years after their debut album 'Return Of The Jackalope'. The band tells us that the new album was created under far better and more sober circumstances than its predecessor, and even though with some bands this is not a guarantuee that the music reaches a higher level, I think with Plainride it is! They deliver a nice, substantial album and add something extra to it by surrounding it with awesome cover art, interesting titles ('Battletoads' and 'Wormhole Society', among others) and imaginative backgrounds for each of the four band members. All of this together creates some kind of interdimensional, fantasy atmosphere. With that as a background the music sounds just that much better.
This resourcefulness also finds its way to the lyrics and the music and before we are well on our way through opening track 'El Coyote' it has become quite evident that Plainride likes playing an intense and sharp brand of stoner rock. Nothing seems arranged and everything seems to just be played off the top of their heads. Great riffs, a heavy rhythm section and dangerous guitar licks. Soon we arrive at 'Seven Of Spades' and I must say that this is a song of genius: shorter than many a punk rock song, but full and intense as it scrapes through your head. A tribute to Motörhead? Occasionally the music seems to be going towards turning into a sing-along, but fortunately it never quite happens. A small point of criticism in regards to the singing: Max Rebel's voice sounds hoarse in a very positive kind of way, but it is just a tad too much for an entire album and therefore it runs the risk of sounding a little boring eventually.
The last four tracks that we find on 'Life On Ares' show how very important the order of the songs on an album is. Too often I hear albums that sound like the songs were just put on there randomly, without any thought of the effect the order of songs has, and that is such a shame. The first six tracks seem to follow that idea, but they are good enough to neutralise the side effects this has. As soon as we come to the end of 'Texas Labyrinth', a solid, chunky song, and it perfectly blends into the ballad 'Blood On The Crown', we know these guys mean serious business. The piano sounds ominous and unkind and the spoken passages match the dramatic build-up that results in 'Thunder & Awe', a rocking headbanging song that eventually emerges into the final and very relaxed song 'Anaximander'
A nice album that at no point feels laborious or strained. In his review of 'Return Of The Jackalope', my colleague wrote that it would take Plainride two more albums to create a topnotch album, and I think with this release they are pretty darn close to that!