Album of the Day 1/10/12: Nebula - To The Center

Did you ever look at a certain style of music from the rear-view mirror, so to speak, and think about the bands that really made an impact on the scene as a whole?  Today I did that while thinking about the stoner rock boom in the late 90's and listening to Nebula.

In the mid to late '90's, specifically within the metal community, there were a lot of bands that begun playing stripped down, fuzzed out, old school rock n roll.  Kyuss was the band that did it the best and with the most success but really the inspiration was Black Sabbath and all of the hybrid doom/rock bands that came after (St. Vitus being the prime example).  One of the bands that emerged from this scene was California's Nebula.  Two thirds of Nebula emerged from another classic California stoner rock outfit - Fu Manchu.  That right there should give you a pretty good barometer as to what Nebula was all about.  They were a power trio who specialized in heavy psychedelic rock n roll of the highest order. 

1999's To The Center was their fourth release but actually their first full length album.  The year prior Relpase Records had reissued their first EP (Let It Burn originally released on Tee Pee Records).  The Relapse reissue, which contained two bonus tracks that happened to be the two best songs on the album, was one of the greatest stoner rock albums of all time.  Since its release I've spent this bands entire career, including this album, comparing everything they do to it.  That's not a practice I normally undertake, but that should tell you how good that EP was.  Out of all their material I think this album (their first for SubPop) stands up the strongest.  To The Center is much more concerned with the "psychedelic" than it is the "rock" but that's not to say this album isn't heavy or is mainstream accessible.  On the contrary it would have only found a home on rock radio around 1970-1975.  Even through my jaded ears I can hear the fact that this album in its own right is a stoner rock masterpiece and deserves as much attention as I give Let It Burn.  This album is highly recommended for fans of later era Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, Mountain and any of the aforementioned bands.     


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