Review: Nebula – ‘Let it Burn’ 20th Anniversary Reissue

For fans of Nineties psych-fused heavy rock, a group that commonly springs to mind is Los Angeles based power-trio Nebula, a group whose initial incarnation was formed out of the ashes of Fu Manchu and their decaying line-up at the time. Celebrating their 20th Anniversary, the group are planning to reissue their first three recordings under the newly-established, slightly esoteric label under the name of Heavy Psych Sounds. Each individual release features two bonus tracks as well as the original track-listing and is certainly marked by a deep feeling of sentiment and accomplishment. Today we’ll be focusing on the first of their upcoming releases which is also evidently the first plunge into oblivion the group embarked upon as a recording unit; – why yes, of course I’m talking about the EP ‘Let it Burn’ which was in its heyday originally released via Relapse Records. The recording personnel consists of guitarist / vocalist Eddie Glass, drummer Ruben Romano and bassist Mark Abshire. It is scheduled for release on 26 Jan 2018.

Opening with sci-fi inspired spiralling effects and phased guitars you have the energetic ‘Elevation’ which certainly lives up to its name in terms of its high production values. Its range of bluesy, Sabbath-inspired riffs and electric drumming are enough to kick you right out of your seat. A relatively short song, it marks its territory in a very demonstrative, non-obliging way. Indeed, the guitars at times sound closer to an old arcade-machine on this track with all the effects, and I can only estimate this was in fact their attempt. Next on the bill is the mid-tempo, slightly more streamlined number ‘Down the Highway’ which isn’t as desert-inspired as the title may suggest. It’s just a very traditional sounding number albeit with a slightly unconventional chorus. Title track ‘Let it Burn’ enters a more left-field territory with its long opening sequence of organic-meets-electric percussion styles. The world-influenced jam only lasts for a number of seconds before the track converts itself into another mid-paced rocker. It may be fair to say that dynamic drumming plays a bigger role in this track than the previous two, however. ‘Vulcan Bomber’ is a fabulous track with dissonant chordal voicings, maracas, distorted vocals and crushing rhythms. Very punky, especially during the screaming sections! The latter half of the song is a guitar-solo which doesn’t quite capture the excitement of the half prior to it. ‘Dragon Eye’ is a very solid riff-based number that relies upon psychedelic tinges in production which is quite analogous to the opening song. It’s probably one of the most catchy ones for its very nice balance of solos, verses and choruses. Now, ‘Raga in the Bloodshot Pyramid’ is where things start to turn very left-field; an instrumental number built around sitar, bongos, acoustics and maracas among numerous other forms of instrumentation that even I couldn’t discern as the production sweetly coalesces the elaborate elements into one unified whole. Obviously it’s very Egyptian-sounding and it’s a track that won’t appeal to all ears but it certainly appeals to mine which are by now finely tuned to such styles. Then we have the epic, ‘Sonic Titan’, a seven-minute number which is evidently the longest running track on the album. Beginning with the increasingly unfamiliar sound of crash-cymbals which the mind temporarily disassociated itself from on account of being immersed in the previous track’s soporific sitars of splendour, the track really helps to rejuvenate the whole atmosphere. During the middle, you get a section which is probably the closest the group come to falling into the archetypal “doom” category for its reliance upon slow tempos, minor-pentatonic solos, palm-muted riffs, ride cymbals and the distant sound effects that permeate the album throughout. The track just so happens to remain this way until its cessation. ‘Devil’s Liquid’, the EP’s closing track is yet another mid-paced rocker but it’s actually much more enjoyable and refreshing this time around after the dazed tranquillity of the previous two. This is a no-nonsense one and it certainly gets your foot tapping. Evidently, one of the two bonus tracks is a demo version of this track alongside a version of the title track restyled as an extended live-performance.


Eddie Glass: – guitars, vocals, percussion                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Ruben Romano: – drums, percussion, sitar                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Mark Abshire: – bass

Be sure to check out the original 1998 release below!


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