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Atomic Ritual

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Album Review

The cover art for Atomic Ritual suggests Nebula's quest for the melding of inner and outer space — or something equally hazy and vaguely profound conjured up amidst all the bong resin and empty, crumpled Cheetos bags. Of course, Nebula treads heavily within the realm of stoner rock — in other words (and setting aside any ridiculous categorizations), this hard-working power trio sounds like it has been hanging out in the garage since 1973, blissfully unaware of the changing world outside. Which is definitely to its benefit because this, the band's third full-length, boasts consistently entertaining songwriting and the production hand of desert-rock hero Chris Goss, who captures Nebula's sound while simultaneously enhancing it. He carefully and brilliantly melds warm, '70s fuzz tones with the grit and fury necessitated by gifted guitarist Eddie Glass' raucous, overdriven Stooges riffs. Hence the up-tempo thunder-and-rumble of "So It Goes"; the garage punk freakouts of "More" and the title track; the wavering space echo of "The Beast" and "Strange Human"; the flanged acoustic guitar and lazy Mellotron warbles of "Paradise Engineer"; and the hook-ridden, coulda-been-AM-radio-hits "The Way to Venus" and "Carpe Diem." Notably, there's very little filler and plenty of hooks to be found on Atomic Ritual, and the group manages to somehow work its meandering sonic indulgences — hyperactive drumming, phaser-pedal whooshes and swooshes, guitar solos — into arrangements that never top the five-minute mark. Sure, Nebula wears its myriad of influences on its dusty, tattered sleeve — early Monster Magnet, Mudhoney, the MC5, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Blue Cheer — but bottom line, Atomic Ritual is a thoroughly enjoyable listen and a surprisingly focused piece of work considering the band's penchant for psychotropic space rock.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano formed Nebula in 1997 after breaking away from desert rock pioneers Fu Manchu, eventually recruiting bassist Mark Abshire. This power trio specializes in feedback-drenched heavy rock, incorporating liberal doses of Black Sabbath riffery, psychedelia, and space rock. The band released a number of EPs before moving onto full-length albums like 1999's...
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Atomic Ritual, Nebula
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