Live At Freak Valley
As the title suggests, this is a live album recorded at Germany’s Freak Valley festival in 2014 which is one of Europe’s top festivals for heavy psychedelia and stoner rock and this album showcases Portland stoner rock titans Ape Machine on full power and in their natural habitat, live on stage and Live At Freak Valley features a high spirited performance complete with a brilliant on stage sound, sometimes this can hamper a live recording but this is not the case here at all, this is Ape Machine firing on all cylinders live!
Wasting no time, the band kick straight into the classic 70s indebted Wear Me Out with their trademark heavy grooves and galloping riffs with vocalist Caleb Heinzes singing his heart out as the bands smashes through the song with the audience reacting accordingly.
The harmonica tinged The Sun is followed by a cover of the Deep Purple classic Black Night which is a faithful rendition that puts a little Ape Machine spin on the song. Strange Are The People is an anthem in waiting invoking Bad Company and Free with a little bit of a Blue Oyster Cult influence in there too, in fact the Ape Machine sound owes much to these bands but with their own unique take on things that is definitely heavier for starters and this works extremely well as does the next song Grind Of Defeat.
Ruling With Intent has a more bluesy and slower feel with Heinze wailing his heart out over the heavy blues riffs and a stunning guitar solo courtesy of Ian Watts with the rhythm section of bassist Brian True and Damon De La Paz on drums playing a blinder as well.
Gun Machine is the heaviest thing on offer here with crushing riffs and pounding drums grooving along with the desert tinged vocals of Heinze.
Every Body Bleeds is a funky rocker while Tyrants Arm would fit in well on Trouble album and contains some fantastic fretwork from Watts with Caleb Heinze soaring with his singing over more galloping bass and drums that certainly gets the crowd going.
Finishing this fine set off with the pounding Angry Man and energetic closing number Mangled By the Machine is a fine way to sign off with more heavy blues influences and guitar heroics and the band leave the Freak Valley stage as conquering heroes.
Ape Machine are a fine live band and Live At Freak Valley shows just how fine you are and this release is available as an LP/DVD package and is definitely a fine way to watch and listen to the band on stage and having done so you won’t want to miss them live when they tour next.
Ape Machine -Live At Freak Valley out NOW via Ripple Music
Words: Gavin Brown