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Dead Meadow: Three Kings

C-

Dead Meadow

Album: Three Kings
Label: Xemu

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Dead Meadow digs its own mystique, and that self-mythology has served the band well; wreathed in pulsing paisley and a hashish haze, the trio’s industrial-strength psychedelia has always been about the experience, man. How could a live Dead Meadow album go wrong? The answer to that question is Three Kings. The in-concert disc unflatteringly highlights the group’s plodding, reverb-soaked proto-metal, minus the communal vibe and volume. Of Kings’ five new studio tracks, the sumptuously soulful “Push ’Em To The Crux” and the Uriah Heep-like “That Old Temple” stand out, but the latter degenerates into a glum, featureless mush in the chorus. Even less essential is the album’s accompanying DVD; featuring the same live tracks as the CD, it’s interspersed with pointless clips of the band farming its facial hair in the desert and walking around in druid robes. And the performances themselves—at least as captured on camera—bear a listless twitchiness that needs to be either more laid-back or more balls-out. It’s odd that a decent live band like Dead Meadow might not be capable of a great live album. If it is, it certainly hasn’t shown it.