Riddle me this: If four stoners play loud music in a barn in a small town and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? The Ontario-based band Familiars proves that it does with the release of their two-track, live, off-the-floor recording of “Fire in the Sky” and its B-Side, “Beyond Its Reach”.
As far as bands go, this one’s still in its infant stages. To put things into perspective, this is their first recording effort, which follows not too far behind their first live show, which took place recently in Toronto at The Silver Dollar Room. Being mindful of this, these dudes have definitely secured themselves a very solid position from which to start.
Loud and distorted riff-rock is the name of their game, pulling in elements of both doom and sludge metal, resulting in a dark and heavy tone which is featured throughout their repertoire. Their A-Side track, “Fire in the Sky”, is a testament to their ability to blend an upbeat tempo with a downbeat feel, although the vocals get lost in the mass of sound coming from the instruments. While this may be due to their off-the-floor recording method (which, rumor has it, was done in a barn), the music that Familiars plays needs stronger, more substantial vocals to add some dimension to their sound.
This is somewhat rectified in “Beyond its Reach”, which is the more developed of their two songs. It begins with a particularly catchy opening beat, giving way to the hooks that keep up throughout the majority of the following four and a half minutes. The guitar’s tone is reminiscent of what you’d find in some Black Mountain material, but more on the fuzzy side. The band’s use of different sounds, the distortion of grunge, the deeper, more evil tone of doom metal, and the slow, heavy tempos of sludge metal, simultaneously is something that is instantly memorable and shows promise for any recordings to come.
If Familiars continues to mature and evolve on this track, their future releases will be something to get excited about. Poised to become some of the next leading men in Canadian stoner rock, I am intrigued to see what comes next for these small-town Ontario rockers.
Written by Karyna Evangelista