Various Artists

High Volume (High Times Records)

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There are two principles to consider when the chance to buy a stoner-rock compilation arises. The first is that stoner-rock bands tend to have relatively few great tunes in 'em; their albums are usually front-loaded with power and almost always falter down the stretch. The second is that any band, regardless of genre, is gonna save the good stuff for its own albums and dish up leftovers when a label comes calling for a compilation track. Combine these two, and the natural conclusion that High Volume is a substandard slog is pretty hard to escape.

Yes, there are good bands present. High on Fire, Bad Wizard, Nebula, Clutch, the Hidden Hand, and Orange Goblin have all made records worth investigating. But without exception, their contributions to High Volume are tedious (and we never thought we'd say that about High on Fire or Bad Wizard, whose debut CD Free & Easy was the MC5 all over again, only meaner). Nope, this disc definitely doesn't bode well for the label it's inaugurating. It's not even a good introduction to the bands that are showcased -- and that's the worst thing of all. Just buy the full-length albums.

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