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Album Review
Pine / Cross Dover

Pine / Cross Dover
by Masters of Reality


Review Date
22nd December 2010
Reviewed by
Ricardo Kerr

Like Moses wandering out from the desert, American rock mavens Masters of Reality emerge from their own figurative desert with a brand new album. With the return of Kyuss to the stage next year now is as good of a time as any for the return of these godfathers of the California ‘Desert rock’ scene. Legendary band leader / singer / guitarist Chris Goss has had his hand in not only the albums of modern rock royalty Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age but also the Eagles of Death Metal, Goon Moon as well as featuring on albums by UNKLE and Lupe Fiasco. Such a diverse portfolio paints a picture of an artist that is not afraid to mix things up and keep things fresh. It is that very sense of adventure that both drives and informs Pine / Cross Dover, the band’s sixth proper album.

With little fanfare, opening song ‘King Richard TLH’ finds Goss in fine form with his trademark baritone charging ahead of the dense riffs unspooling from the record. It stands as an immediate departure from largely-acoustic stylings of their previous record Give Us Barabbas (although in truth it was Masters of Reality in name only instead of the Chris Goss solo album it was intended to be) as it leaps restlessly out of the gate. Before you get any real chance to settle into a familiar groove you are hit with the arcane rock dirge that is ‘Absinth Jim & Me’. Proceedings slow down with ‘Worm in the Silk’, a slippery hypnotic mantra punctuated by bass slaps and accentuated by some tasteful classical guitaring. Track four (‘Always’) yields yet another curve ball in the form of fizzing garage funk not entirely dissimilar to the afore mentioned Eagles of Death Metal. And thus the album continues, throwing new ideas at you with every song, keeping you on your toes and keeping you from being able to guess what lies around the corner. By the time the album has wrapped up you will have found prog rock guitar abstractions, stoner rock monoliths, muscular love songs, and a twelve-minute-plus hippie jam worthy of the Grateful Dead themselves.

Chris Goss has always said that the sound he is aiming for is the collision of The Beatles and Black Sabbath. This record takes that framework and uses it to hang other more nebulous influences that range from Cream and Blue Cheer to such far flung regions as King Crimson, Talking Heads, early Funkadelic, and even Primus. This band has helped to shape the present (and future) of rock music for over 20 years now. With results like this here’s hoping they continue for at least 20 more.