Dead Meadow - Old Growth (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Dead Meadow

Old Growth (2008)


In 2005, Dead Meadow released Feathers. That album consisted of 10 tracks that sounded like riffed up versions of Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan." And I thought it was pretty great. About an hour's worth of chillaxin' in the groove. But, seriously, that can get old.

So what a delightful surprise when I heard the second track from Old Growth! "Between Me and the Ground" starts out with a shuffling rootsy riff, channeling `60s rock more than droning stoner guitars. Adding a little pep and rhythm to their riffage definitely helps. And after the departure of their second guitarist, just as fast as he joined, the band sounds like they're actually playing rock 'n' roll music again.

The bass holds down the groove well, trading off well with the guitars and lending to the melody when needed. "Down Here" offers a nice switch-up from the grooves, however, with the album's first folksy acoustic picking song. The Led Zeppelin comparisons draw more from the song stylings on Old Growth than they do from the riffs alone.

The finest song on the album is "'Til Kingdom Come," a driving shuffling beat featuring a steady pulsing bass line, spacey guitar solos, and jazzy drum fills. Dead Meadow conjures up some CCR for "I'm Gone" and `60s psychedelic Indian vibes for "Seven Seers." "The Queen of All Returns" is another driving rock song, focusing less on the guitar and more on straight rockin' drum patterns before slowing down for a stiff halftime tempo.

Fans of Feathers should be sufficiently satisfied with "Ain't Got Nothing (To Go Wrong)" and "The Great Deceiver," while "Hard People / Hard Times" offers more of the chilled out vibe with a more minimalist approach. The album closes with the slow acoustic ballad "Either Way," taking cues from the Rolling Stones.

What's refreshing is that Dead Meadow has taken a step back. All three of the instruments have been granted autonomy. The album rarely features extra guitar tracks, and the music isn't lost in a muddle of sound. What we're left with is an honest-to-God rock 'n' roll album, even if it's played a little bit slower than most.