United States of America (Shreveport, Louisiana)
Doom Dealer/The Church Within
Current line-upEmily - Guitar, Vocals
Lonnie - Bass, Vocals, Samples
Trey - Drums
Shreveport, Louisiana is a good ways north and west of the fabled New Orleans, and likewise, Ketea offer a sound north and west of fabled Nola acts like EyeHateGod, Suplecs, Mystick Krewe of Clearlight and Crowbar. Their emphasis, both musically and vocally, is on dynamics – each of the six songs on their Doom Dealer/The Church Within debut, Alpha, features finely honed changes that come in so hard they’ll crack your sheetrock and go out so smooth they’ll caulk it back up. Good for outdoor listening, I suppose.
Tonally similar to Zoroaster’s Dog Magic and mixed so the thick, hairy (which would have to be the next step up from fuzzy, right?) guitars and bass are primary considerations when listening, the sample-laden Alpha demonstrates its creators’ thoughtfulness in a variety of ways apart from the ease of transitions. All six tracks begin with the same letter as the album title, for example, and the songs are arranged so that “A Bomb a Nation,” the longest of the bunch, comes at the end of the vinyl’s side A. These may be small touches, but they show Ketea are putting real thought into their work, they’re passionate about it, where many bands just record songs, throw them together and call it a record.
What Alpha does exceedingly well is pull the listener into it and shove them out again. The trio – guitarist/vocalist Emily, bassist/vocalist Lonnie and drummer Trey – immediately set about modal deconstruction with opener “Alchemystery,” which begins with Acid King-style (if less confident) clean vocals from Emily before smashing Lonnie’s screams into the eardrum at 6:12. The interlude following the solo at 4:29 that leads into that segment helps set the range and overall mood of the album.
The more bass-driven “Affect the Hive” is the shortest and maybe the screamiest of the songs, with high-low growls and cackles playing off each other over a punishing guitar line, and the aforementioned “A Bomb a Nation,” finds Emily’s vocals more present in the mix, better sounding for it and accompanied by some Mastodonish rhythmic screaming. Side A ends quietly and side B, like the album itself, starts with a sample in “Apochrypha.” The more droned-out riffing, Kylesa-esque simultaneous vocal attack from Emily and Lonnie, insistent drumming from Trey and accordingly careful timing in the guitar provides further evidence that Ketea’s approach is well but not overly considered. They sound like their songwriting is a priority, but also that it is unforced.
“Andromeda” is the most sample-heavy of the songs, with some screams thrown in to keep things moving. What the samples are talking about I’m not sure because they’re partially buried under the music, but there’s a bit about the Kraken, which isn’t surprising given the band’s beast-of-the-sea moniker (the Cetea were water-bound monsters in Greek mythology). Closer “Above All” may not be the longest track on Alpha, but it is imbued with a sense of totality, be it because of the title or the massiveness of the riff around which it is centered and revolving. A longer interlude with dreamy guitar noises and echoes (cut off at 3:09) underscores once again that Ketea’s strength is in being able to switch between all-out brown note doom and quieter moments. The memorable guitar line soon makes its exit into about a two-minute feedback outro.
There are times when listening to Alpha feels like being picked up and put back down, but the organic sound of the band and the decided lack of awkwardness in their switching from one to the other is enough to make them stand out among their doomed peers in today’s crowded scene. They’re worth watching to see what they do down the line, but don’t let that stop you from missing them now either. Really dug this one.
- Review by JJ Koczan (StonerRock.com)
2009 - Alpha
2. affect the hive
3. a bomb a nation
6. above all
Ketea are fucking AWESOME. I had searched all over trying to get my hands on this, especially since Shreveport is at the very top of Louisiana, it's not like I could have just bought it from a show. I finally found it at The Mushroom in New Orleans, and I was super excited. These guys (and girl) are vicious!! I had only heard two or three songs from their Myspace over a year ago and I had my mind set on getting this. With all the elements of the NOLA sludge legends, Ketea took that sound and added their elements of progression. It was like the cherry on the sundae, or the jelly for your moldy peanut butter sandwich.
As far as I know this is an exclusive Nola 504 and More download, I emailed Trey as soon as I returned home the record shop and asked if they minded if I put this up for all of you to hear, and they gave me their blessing. So with that said, I'm sure this will spread like wildfire because they are that damn good!!
Enjoy! - swampchode
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