In the mid-2000s there emerged a resurgence of artists discovering Coven and a wave of stoner rock bands whose singers who newly reflected that influence. This style of music became labeled “occult rock,” and while the trend waned into a cloud of bong smoke, Oakland’s Psychic Hit would have fit snugly alongside many of those bands even with a heavier, more metallic sound. Their debut album Solutio couples this aesthetic with an authentic exploration of psychedelia, thanks in part to some of the members having played in one of the varied incarnations of Hawkwind. But the backbone of their sound is ’70s-era proto-metal like early Judas Priest, with a fetish for heavy boogie grooves that leans more toward Thin Lizzy.
Despite wearing their influences on their glittery sleeves, Psychic Hit have their own unique sound, much of it thanks to powerhouse vocalist, Ariana Jade. Her sense of sultry sass colors even the most hell-bent-for-leather metal yodels. Everyone in the band is more than just proficient at their instruments, though special mention should be given to Melanie Burkett’s melodic bass work that fights its way into the mix. Where most retro metal tends to languish on recapturing a sound, Psychic Hit bask in the organic warmth of that ’70s sound without getting lost in it. The hypnotic bassline into the psychedelic opening of “Orocovis” is an excellent example—it’s not like they suddenly become Jefferson Airplane. When the verse kicks in, they take off into a harmonized, heavy metal guitar gallop.
The aggressive “Left for Dead” is the album’s most overtly Judas Priest-like moment, which makes it the most metal moment overall. The group dial things back with “Hand of Fate,” before once again ratcheting it back up into a palm-muted tension. The vocals follow the guitar, and as a result tend to lose the hookier feel of the first half of the album. Psychic Hit close the album with “California Burnin’,” the track with the best riffing and a significant influence from proto-metal gods Rainbow. The vocals are less operatic than Ronnie James Dio’s, however, and are added more as a garnish rather than the meat of the matter.
Solutio is a lot of fun, the kind of riff-heavy rock record that’s easy to simply keep playing on a loop. Both ends of their sonic spectrum—the introspective, acid-dripped space ventures and the galloping, denim-clad metal fests—are a total blast, but there’s still plenty of room to integrate more of one into the other and vice versa. After a few listens, don’t be surprised if you find yourself airbrushing a wizard on the side of your van and making a drive out to the desert.
Label: Seeing Red