Friday 27 January 2023

Achachak - Planet Hashish

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 12 Mar 2022


1. Planet Hashish

2. Breathe

3. Celebration For The Desert

4. Orange Moon

5. Weed Wagon

6. Shamans Horse

7. Desert Eye

8. The Hasheesh Eater

9. Fishermans F(r)iend

I'm relieved to have survived another week at the coalface and to celebrate, I'm slinging on some stoner rock. Stoner rock from Croatia no less, with the third and latest album from Achachak. Planet Hashish was released early last year (yes, I know I should be covering more 2023 releases here but please bear with me) and it follows three EPs and two other full-lengths that have hit the internet since Achachak's formation in 2020. Pretty damn productive then!

Since I wrote about the split tape box set from Robustfellow Productions last year, I’ve been really intrigued by the stoner/doom that’s come out of Central/Eastern Europe. Hearing Achachak’s approach on their third album Planet Hashish, I can tell that the groove is well and truly universal. The album’s opening title track is way cleaner sounding than expected, which is no bad thing. The tempo is slow to mid-paced, driven by the percussion and low-end, which also encompasses downturned guitar riffs and mournful yet melodic vocals.

‘Breathe’ contains a bit more treble amongst it’s steady dirge-like flow (I use the term ‘dirge’ in the nicest possible way to describe the pace of the music). That slower pace is hidden somewhat by the fact that Achachak refrain from allowing their songs to run too long. Desert rock as a sub-genre was ushered in by the likes of Kyuss, before it was passed onto bands like Queens Of The Stone Age, Mondo Generator and others. Achachak seem to have been able to tap into that same vibe on the glorious instrumental ‘Celebration For The Desert’, with it’s middle-eastern influences and laid-back demeanour. It shows off the band’s instrumentation at it’s best.

After the calm of the previous song, you’re brought crashing back to life with ‘Orange Moon’. It’s a song filled with cosmic mysticism and catchy textures. It’s the quintet’s heaviest song and there’s not been much competition on that front so far. Don’t be fooled though; it doesn’t mean there’s been any drop in instrumental prowess. The very aptly titled ‘Weed Wagon’ marks the mid-point in the album and it’s got a furious sense of urgent groove about it, which is no surprise given it’s shorter sub-three minute length. Concentrated and condensed stoner rock is fine with me!

Variation is key on albums of this ilk and it’s pleasing that Achachak stray from the path throughout. ‘Shamans Horse’ contains more crunching riffs, but couples them with occult/chant-like vocals. The pace picks up towards the end but you can’t escape the otherworldly tones. There’s a promise of some proper heavy metal (and even thrash) on ‘Desert Eye’ but it doesn’t completely materialise and instead, you’re left with a ripping rock song complete with excellent lead-work towards the end.

That leaves just two more songs on what has so far been an awesome record. ‘The Hasheesh Eater’ brings to mind the gothic tones of Type O Negative and the bluesy approach of the already mentioned Kyuss. The constant references to weed and hashish don’t leave anything to this imagination throughout, but then Achachak aren’t trying to hide anything either. The album’s longest song is left till the end and ‘Fishermans F(r)iend’ is the most atmospheric number too, with the sound of waves lapping underneath the music. It slowly grows from it’s simple guitar/vocal approach thanks to sporadic use of percussion, threatening to break out into something much heavier. It finally breaks loose of it’s chains during the final minute and it’s a great way to end.

There’s an appeal to Achachak’s music that goes beyond mere stoner worship. It crosses over into something that could create commercial success for the band. I dislike bands that are created purely for commercial gain but I long for underground/independent bands to find such success themselves, which is why I hold Achachak in very high regard. They’ve made brilliant progress on their own but I can definitely see them amongst the rosters of Heavy Psych Sounds or Ripple Music in the future. Whichever direction they choose, they have my support.

You can stream and purchase Planet Hashish both digitally, and on glorious 10" vinyl below:-

Achachak -

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