Nebula - Atomic Ritual | RECORD STORE DAY

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"Hey hey, gotta seize the day," snarls Eddie Glass on "Carpe Diem," one of the super-sized cuts from Nebula's third full-length release Atomic Ritual. Words to live by from these Los Angeles stoners-made-good, and the record offers a lot more of the stunted Trapper Keeper poetics and Guitar Center riffery that made 1999's To the Center and 2001's Charged such guilty pleasures. True, it's well-trod ground by now for Glass and drummer Ruben Romano, who co-chaired the California chapter of the Blue Cheer/Black Sabbath Appreciation Society with Fu Manchu at the top end of the '90s, but one whiff of the group's massively dense, heavier-than-heavy sound carries a contact high.

As always, Glass and Romano take turns leading the charge with bursts of white noise early on with Atomic Ritual, but the record takes a somewhat abrupt turn with the psychedelic jam "Out of Your Head" before slowing down on "Paradise Engineer" and eventually grinding to a halt on "Fin," an elliptical, keyboard-driven instrumental full of spacey atmospherics. That's a good thing, though-because it means that the trio has finally applied some of that miraculous stoner logic towards tinkering with new sounds, placing them a bit closer to the rarified air that Queens of the Stone Age occupies. Mind you, Glass and Romano are still lagging behind Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri in the race to innovate, but props to the group for wandering out of the comfort zone of the high school gym locker room and resisting the urge to release the same record three times in a row.