Righteous Fool, based on my research of the group, appear to primarily be a side-project of sorts for Corrosion of Conformity members Mike Dean (bass) and Reed Mullin (drums) joined up with guitarist Jason Browning. Outside of a self-titled single released in 2010 and a handful of shows performed from 2009-2010, the band doesn’t appear to have much past activity, likely due to the busy schedule of COC. In the mix of this handful of shows, however, the band did perform with the likes of Clutch and Weedeater. Based on the sounds recognized on this debut album, Righteous Fool, they were certainly a perfect fit for those respective bills.
Starting off with “Enter the Fool Intro”, which, as its title suggests, is simply an instrumental introductory track, the album begins on a somewhat subtle note. The sound here is, to me, a bit along the lines of hard rock bands like Graveyard, where the tones are a little more on the clean side, with an interesting bass melody leading us into a bit dirtier of a build-up. Some feedback rings, and then we are propelled into a riffy, muddy, heavy mix of chunky guitar chords that carries on until the track blends right into “Asteroid”.
“Asteroid” is where the fun really begins, with vocals appearing about 24 seconds into the song. An almost old-school guitar riff drives the rhythm as the drums kick in; the vocals must be a mirror of the title, what with this somewhat spacey effect thrown over them. While the general tone of the band seems to be sludge rock with maybe a bit of doom metal thrown in, this song almost has an ‘80s thrash feel to it, at least during these beginning bits. Somehow, the vocals feel a bit lost in the mix; though present enough to where you can tell they are there, they almost seem to be in the background, so to speak.
Following a trend of what I think is one of the best blendings between tracks I’ve heard on an album, “Shifty” picks right up from where “Asteroid” left off. This time, we can hear the vocals a bit better, too! Perhaps that spacey vocal effect was a hindrance? Regardless, we get just a wee bit more decibels on the vocals throughout this track. Let it never be said that Righteous Fool don’t know how to make a groove, because that’s the best summary for this track – groovin’. I’ve never had a song make me want to purchase an ATV quite like this one did upon first listen. Lots of guitar-wailing goodness to be heard here.
“Forever Flames” boasts what I believe is an Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats-influenced riff. This track also feels a tad Red Fang-esque, but that’s not at all to say it’s any sort of copy, it just has a mild familiarity to it. The entire album has a sort of Southern vibe going on, but I think it’s strongest in this song. Between this and “The Overblown”, your next camping trip playlist is covered. I especially dig the guitar and drum work on “Hard Time Killing Floor”, and how they seem to play off of each other.
Righteous Fool’s cover of “The Green Manalishi” seems like the proverbial sweet spot of the album for me as far as production goes. The vocals become clear and prevalent here, and the instrumentation and play on dynamics are at a thrilling high point. It seems they added a sort of Mastodon-esque feel for the intro, while giving us a little bluesy jam-like groove just before the beginning verse starts. An interesting take on the Fleetwood Mac track made famous by Judas Priest, you could almost say they made it their own with this stylization and approach.
I feel like the first four to five tracks were the strongest points for me, despite the vocal levels seeming a bit off in the first few. The back half of the album blends together as a nonstop riffy wonderland of mosh-worthy guitars and slow spots sure to give you whiplash, but I think it picks back up most once you hit “Low Blow” or the closer “Vortex”, which gives us one last round of crooning and groove over its 4:20 duration (of course, leave it to the stoner metal band to have a song that’s 4:20 minutes long) before fading out with an almost melodic feedback.
So there you have it: a full-length debut of three names belonging to glorious metal and punk acts delivering on bluesy metal tunes to grab your next batch of brews to. For me personally, there isn’t a whole lot to make much of a huge fuss about here, but – it’s metal, it’s heavy, it’s fun, and probably goes great on any playlist for the summer time. A hazy tinge lingers about the album, too, that summer heat vibe reminiscent to much of Soundgarden’s material, so that’s definitely an element I appreciate.
If you like metal with a bluesy edge, you’ll enjoy this. If you’re looking for something a bit more creative and out there, well, you’ll probably still enjoy this. Whatever expectations you enter your listening experience with, be sure to follow Righteous Fool on their available socials and stay tuned for whatever the future may hold for this fun trio of shredders. Cool stuff, Righteous Fool!