Pablo says: Try Mandarin

Croatian stoner rockers debut UK tour announces a new kid on the block with heavy riffs and message for all

Scruffy Murphys January 27
The Black Heart January 29

Stoner rock or stoner metal is a rock music fusion genre that combines elements of heavy metal and/or doom metal with psychedelic rock and acid rock. It is typically slow-to-mid tempo and features a heavily distorted, groove laden bass-heavy sound and melodic vocals, all delving into psychedelia and seventies blues rock themes. Pioneered by legendary Kyuss back in California desert it has reach world wide recognition with bands like Slo Burn, Mondo Generator, Brant Bjork, Fu Manchu and Electric Wizard, amongst others, perfecting and adding their own twist on what was already a winning formula.

Kryptic Menticide | Photo: Nebojsa Kosijer

Which brings me to She loves Pablo, stoner groove band from Zagreb, Croatia. Wait a minute, what?! Yep, days when when all the best rock bands came from US or UK are long gone. Emergence of social networks and search for the new big star has unearthed some real gems. And these Croatian band of brothers fall into that group.

Some 12 years of actively writing music and showcasing their material has resulted in 3 albums and finally brought them to our shores.

Dog | Photo: Nebojsa Kosijer

Birmingham show was on Saturday. Support came from local bands in the form of Kryptic Menticide and Dog. Kryptic are heavy metal band from Bromsgrove. Influenced by the likes of Deftones, Sepultura and Pantera these boys will deliver on promise: brutal, in-your-face,ferocious assault that will shutter any preconceptions you might have about them. Surprise it most certainly is not. Hard working four piece are just that: hard. Noticing a drummer laughing his head off while playing the most complexed series of drum beat has put a smile on my face. These guys are good. And they do enjoy what they do. Quality.

She Loves Pablo | Photo: Nebojsa Kosijer

Shortly after Dog came on stage. Stafford three strong doom grunge blues rock collective, or as they would say “Thunderpunk” are a real find. Big riffs, huge sound and an ease with which they musically communicate with each other has knocked me off my feet. Plenty of influences but the band makes it their own. I gasped in awe as the drummer controlled the proceedings only to press the “the flux capacitor” and off we go to another dimension. As on a signal, guitar and bass joined the ceremony in unison and the most amazing collaboration incarnated. There and then. You have been warned. Seriously addicted listening. Do yourself a favour and check them out. Support the artist and scene because we need more bands like these guys. And I am sure there are plenty more out there. Fans do your thing!

Dogtown Dojo | Photo: Rich Ellis

Properly warmed up by now we waited in anticipation for the main act. And by God it was worth it. She Loves Pablo launched into their set with ferocity and direction pumping the small Birmingham venue with riffs galore while frontman Dom engaged in spitting lyrical venom only to slow down after a while and metamorphose into a softly spoken lullaby teller. Not for a long tho. Because there’s no rest for the wicked.

Band opened up with “Next of Kin”, show stopper from the latest “Try Mandarin” album followed by avalanche of of songs from the “Mother of all” (2009) Burn and Levitate (2013). All Down, Try Mandarin and Burning My Soul open up the band and show them in a real rock light. Hard hitting You Won’t Go To Heaven When I Eat Your Ghost, fabulous I Am The Motor and thundering Gambling continue in a rich vein. Show finishes with the sludgy bluesy epic wall of sound that is Slo Diesel ,throwing the crowd into delirium.

Jukebox Monkey | Photo: Nebojsa Kosijer

London followed two days later with support from Dogtown Dojo. Band of skaters/surfers from Croydon served up a treat. More QOTSA but with an interesting vocal that occasionally reminded me of Rob Zombie especially in the opening Docking Bay 94. Interesting promising band that should be seen (and listen too before). One for the future.

Jukebox Monkey come from Gravesend in Kent. Jukebox Monkey come with the big sound and big hair. This guys can play and they deliver a precisely executed 40 minutes. Outstanding Dead Wait and epic Death On Mars stand out. What really caught my attention was their professional approach, a well thought out set, with crowd interaction and all. Future looks bright for these guys. We hope to see them both live again.

She Loves Pablo | Photo: Nebojsa Kosijer

She Loves Pablo was by then ready to release the shackles and so they did. More familiar set followed with highlights being Next Of Kin, You Won’t Go To Heaven, Gambling and Slo Diesel finishing a glorious night for these masters of stoner rock.

One hopes that more of the same will follow for our friendly Croats. I for one can not wait to see them again. Because their music more certainly is Mother Of All.