A lot of out-of-touch boomer motherfuckers like to go on and on to anyone who’ll listen that rock is dead and it’s not like the old days. This is a good thing. Not that rock then was bad – I got a lot of faves – but for a whole medium of art to not progress, splinter off, and reinvent things is boring as hell. In going against this sort of mentality, I’ve come to consider Sandrider one of the best bands in rock right now, and my personal favorite.
Ever since their self-titled debut LP in 2011 (that I discovered a few years after release), Sandrider have been thee band to follow. Their loud-ass approach to stoner/desert rock was all but perfected on 2013’s Godhead – one of my favorite albums of all time – then gracefully followed up with 2018’s Armada, which I happily reviewed here at Everything Is Noise. Even with sizable gaps between their last few albums, their music is a mainstay, and that’s one of the many reasons why I’m so glad to have a new album to roll into rotation, Enveletration.
So, why should you care about Sandrider? Pure, concentrated entropy. We were lucky enough to help the band premiere a single from this album a few weeks ago, and in that article I mention how Cat Costa-Jones captured the spirit of the band with her biography on them and how they sound like ‘the soundtrack to victory‘. This is the perfect descriptor for the Seattle trio. Where other bands are upbeat and high-energy, very few like Sandrider encompass the pure fire and drive with each rumbling riff, slamming drum fill, and shouted vocal from singer/guitarist Jon Weisnewski even in the face of more serious, downer topics. It’s an above-and-beyond attitude that Eveletration may very well be the absolute apex of for them.
It starts early and quickly too with “Alia”, a song about Alia Atreides from the Dune universe (much of Sandrider‘s earlier music, and name, take great influence from Frank Herbert‘s sci-fi epic, and you should also check out “Ixian” if you like that sort of thing). There isn’t a dull moment on this track, from its high-pitched intro to the rollicking verses where everyone’s just giving 110%. Guitars are delectable, the drums guide key section changes to keep things fresh, and Weisnewski’s blasting hook of ‘Alia of the knife/She who walks without feet‘ goes so, so hard.
And even still, that’s almost nothing compared to the album’s title track. “Enveletration”, a portmanteau of ‘envelopment’ and ‘penetration’, riffs on the seemingly phallic, patriarchal assumptions we make with the language we used, a word made up by Weisnewski after a friend of his asked ‘Why is it always about penetration, and never about envelopment?‘ This is the shortest track on the album and yet one of the most effective and heavy they’ve ever made. There’s so much vigor in every aspect of this song, but it’s ultimately the vocals the leave the biggest impression, assisted by bassist Jesse Roberts who has great backing and lead singing moments on Enveletration. Jon’s harsh vocals have been kept nice and sharp with his solo turbo synth/grindcore project Nuclear Dudes, and it shows.
“Tourniquet”, “Proteus”, and “Grouper” blaze along in similar fashions without really retreading any paths previous songs do. Along with “Circles”, though, we get “Weasel” and “Slumber”, which are more on the methodical side of thing. “Weasel” broils up into a mid-tempo, buzzing rock anthem ripe for radio, personifying loud, ignorant, lying politicians as the eponymous mammals whose name we colloquially use to label untrustworthy, conniving people (unfair to the animal, as they are cute and actually useful). “Slumber” is aptly named as the sleepiest track on Enveletration, but it’s far from boring or meritless. Really, it shows the diversity that Sandrider are able to take with their rock sound, and even when they show restrain, they still manage to be ‘on’ in the rawest sense of energy. I love the lyrical refrain of ‘this sort of day doesn’t come around every year‘ in the middle as well.
I’m telling y’all, if we were still rating albums, this would be a 9 or 10 easily. I cannot understate the smile this album puts on my face and how motivating its power is for even the most mundane things in life. Doing dishes was never as cool before you did them with “Priest” blasting your earholes to oblivion. I don’t wanna see anyone talking shit about the death of rock while Sandrider still exist. They deserve the world only because they’ve made this one so much easier to occupy with their music.
I need to physically stop myself from talking about more songs in detail because every single one is worthy of discussion, and all for good reasons. Enveletration is just the top shelf of loud rock just as ready for the stereo as it is for the stage. Not a single song dips below greatness, and even when things are a bit softer and slower, there’s a constant propulsion forward, a progression that’s undeniably infectious and invigorating. Goddamn, it’s something to behold. Sandrider succeed immensely because it’s carried by not only ability, but also the camaraderie of three pals jamming and having fun. You can feel it in every song’s fiber, just as you can in previous albums, but this one even more so coming off the worse part of a global pandemic (that isn’t over yet) that separated us from our loved ones. Enveletration is a signal of triumph, of victory indeed, and a reminder that sometimes simplicity carries the most value.
All band photos by John Malley