Las Historias, a heavy psychedelic power trio from Córdoba, Argentina, released their debut album towards the end of July on Electric Valley Records. Taking most of their cues from the familiar, classic sounds of the psychedelic rock wave from the late 1960s, this self-titled record will undoubtedly appeal to many who follow any of the contemporary retro rock/heavy psych/fuzz blues scenes (etc), although an unmistakeable undercurrent of influence exists from doom metal greats such as Paranoid-era Black Sabbath or Dopethrone-era Electric Wizard. This release, more than anything, is a journey that floats and soars just as successfully as it dives down to more swampy territory.
‘Lord of Poison’ opens proceedings with almost five minutes of instrumental buildup. The calm before the storm, perhaps, although its droning sitars and unconventional modes create a somewhat unnerving atmosphere. Almost two minutes pass before the percussion sneaks in unannounced, and the layers continue to build up as the track spins on. It builds in intensity as the effects-laden electric guitars crescendo, before finally, it grinds to a halt and the tension is released with ‘Frankenstein’.
It takes on a more conventional approach to songwriting with its slow groove and Hendrixian guitar licks. Arguably, its interlude midway through that sees the band at their spaciest is the most memorable and praiseworthy part of the song. Harking back to desert rock-inspired jams of the early 1990s Palm Desert Scene, each instrument shines as the band spread their wings in freeform style.
The clearest allusion to Las Historias’ Argentine roots lies in ‘Hada Madrina’, with a slight Latin tinge to its soft chord sequences and guitar melodies. The gentle diminished chords and uses of harmonic minor progressions almost drift the listener to a warm beach at sunset, deep in South America. Eventually the layers build up, before it culminates into intensely heavy doom-inspired territory, with distorted guitars dripping with fuzz à la Tony Iommi or Matt Pike.
‘Ya Vendrán’ is not dissimilar, although the heavier guitars lie more to the forefront, with another lengthy instrumental jam partway through the song that demonstrates Tomas Iramain’s impressive guitar vocabulary. Closing song ‘Mayhem and Sex’ employs a fairly conventional songwriting approach, but will likely become a fan favourite with its doomy riffs and noticeably heavier atmosphere. With plenty of wavy guitar effects to entertain those on the psych end of the spectrum, it ends proceedings strongly (and slowly).
‘Las Historias’ will appeal to fans of doom/stoner metal and psychedelic rock alike. With a mostly instrumental approach that sees vocals not completely ignored, but far from a key aspect of the music, one is easily drawn into their haze that never sees the longer tracks outstay their welcome. Full of variety and clever compositions, you feel welcome at the Las Historias experience, wishing only for more than five songs. A strong debut.