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Of This & Other Worlds

(Metal Blade)

Reviewed by : Jason Deaville
Rating : 8.5

Everyone has a riff story. That one colossal, mountainous riff that reaffirms what it means to be metal - fists in the air, head-a-bangin, totally at one with the immense power of the riff. Think back to that moment. In fact, if you recall what that riff is, throw it on before you continue reading this review. I want you to lose yourself once again; to recapture that one singular moment in time when nothing else in the universe existed except you and that spellbinding riff. There has never been a riff that captured me quite like BLACK SABBATH's 'The Sign Of The Southern Cross'. There have been many that have come damn close (the breakdown in ANTHRAX's 'Indians', and the crushing, mid-song savagery of METALLICA's 'Blackened' are two that immediately come to mind); but, this Iommi-penned riff is, without doubt, my riff to end all other riffs. It's funny that a riff, like a specific smell or taste, can trigger a memory of what you were doing at the given moment you experienced something truly ethereal. It really is a spiritual, introspective moment. By now you might be asking yourself where the hell I'm going with this. Well, as I sit here typing these words, I'm experiencing one of these rifftastic moments. It comes at the 2:12 moment in the song 'In The Night Sky' by psychedelic three-piece rock/pop/metal practitioners, HIDDEN MASTERS. I can't stop listening to it, and it's only one of many mammoth riffs peppered throughout their Metal Blade-released album, entitled Of This & Other Worlds. To be honest, a bio description of Hidden Masters (which reads "a fevered technicoloured musical dream you would only expect to hear in vintage Disney feature Dumbo") isn't indicative of something that would normally catch my attention. But, ever-curious, I had to check this out. In all fairness, Hidden Masters is so much more than just the occasional killer riff. I was immediately struck by the homage to some of the early Elektra and Vertigo bands - such as KALEIDOSCOPE, GRAVY TRAIN, GENTLE GIANT, SWEETWATER, and Sabbath - combined with that of Norman Petty studios era country, particularly in the warm, fuzzy tones and overall vibe. The lush three-part vocal harmonies perfectly envelop the highly original and idiosyncratic fusion of musical styles, running the gauntlet from doom, rock, West Coast psych, and even a tinge of gospel and folk. Quite remarkably, this is often achieved all within the context of one song. Hidden Masters, as mind-bendingly as they sound, are a very impressive band to arrive this late in the musical genesis of the rock industry. In the words of their record label, they are "so far out, they're in" and "so mixed-up, they're right!". This is one band that rightly deserves a large deposit in my mind's super-inflated riff bank.