Newbie Doomer: Lo-Pan Pathfinder

Welcome to the Road to Dessert Fest. Clean and Sober Stoner found out that Colour Haze was coming to Desertfest NYC and before I knew it we had a trip planned for September. So in honor of my first multi-day Doom Festival, (where my biggest concern is the quality of my earplugs and if I am going to have to stand for 8 hours a day), I have decided to start working my way through the bands.

I am a judgey fan and your band picture that goes into the line up list, to me, is important. And there are some really great classic images here that make these bands look like serious rock stars. And they probably are all well known to you but for this Newbie Doomer, I must say there are some that make me question my commitment to my Boomer’s decision-making. The ones like R.I.P which to me follow the more stereotypical doom image can in fact turn some of us girls off. Now I admit I haven’t done any research or listened to R.I.P., but let’s just say they are lower on my queue. I know you await with bated breath to hear what I think of them but you will have to wait.

Clean and Sober Stoner recommended something more up my alley. First up is Lo-Pan and he recommended I start with Pathfinder. The EP In Tensions from 2017, I must say I found to be delightful. There are variations in each of the songs. Each feels distinctive and unique. The vocals are excellent. And from what I understand the lead singer stands behind the drums during shows, which I can’t wait to experience. I must say that Stoner Doom bands do live by the beat of their own drum and are willing to do things that are outside of the traditional norm. This, in and of itself, should give them some modicum of respect. To me, that is art. True artists create and put themselves out there and they live for the creativity and passion of their medium. And music is no exception and can be one of the truest art forms. These musicians love what they are doing and are brave enough to be outside the norm.

But back to Pathfinder. I really like the first 20 seconds. There is a keyboard or a recording technique that they start with to ramp you into the song. Sounds almost like a drone and then the guitar riff starts. And you know that soon there will be more. At the 20-second mark, you get the drums and vocals. And may I just say that the vocals are impressive. No offense to the other doom bands, but these may be the best I have heard, so far, in my short doom-listening career. Clean and clear and on pitch. Also, I have found that some singers do what I call a pitch swing. I am sure there is probably a technical term for it. But it’s where they swing up or down on the last note and to me, it almost sounds like whining. But none of that here. I find singer, Jeff Martin, delightful and really enjoy the sound of his voice and his method of delivery. The first three minutes are very good and I would say are worthy of any mainstream playlist.

I always say that Doom songs seem to have a song inside the song. Some place in the music where they completely change direction and surprise you with something. Nothing different here. The first 3 minutes of the song are almost a typical rock ballad most of which I really loved. At the 3-minute mark is where they take you to another level. They give you a guitar and drum interlude while they pick up the tempo. And then the next verse and chorus are heavier and drive you. You think you might be almost done with this wild ride of the song but no at the 3:50 mark, they give you the rhythmic drums and the guitar solo starts. The next minute is an OMG guitar solo that makes my toes tap and my head bob to the excellence that is Brian Fristoe. For a non-doomer, this was not too hard, not too soft – more like Goldilocks and it’s just right. It just fits with the song and I can say for someone who does not always love guitar solos this one was right up my alley. You are not even at the 5-minute mark and they are full-on just killing it here. It almost makes me want to slam dance against the Boomer but I don’t think he would be up for that at least not during morning coffee. At about 5:20, Jeff comes back in and you are at almost double time of the tempo we started with. At this moment I am thinking we still have a minute of this song left. What else could we possibly get from this point? How are they going to finish this? I’m excited to see where this goes and I am wondering how will they take me to the promised land. The next minute is almost like the second half of the play. You know the lyrics and what the story is about but you are still hanging on every note. At 6:08, they start these guitar runs which make me want to air guitar along with Skot and Brian through to the end. And then it’s over. And I am almost wishing for an act 3.

Man what a journey they took me on for that song. It was so good. What a good selection from the Clean and Sober Stoner. So…I went to their latest album searching for something that would top Pathfinder. I must say I didn’t find it. The album Subtle which was released in May of 2019 I felt was lacking in the same amount of uniqueness and character that I found in In Tensions. Some of the songs seemed to sound very similar and I found myself skipping over more than I should. I can say I am really looking forward to seeing them in person and I hope they have another album coming out soon so that I can find my next favorite Lo-Pan song.

Now this is a photo that should go in the line-up. See you all at DesertFest NYC in September. That’s all for this one. Thanks for reading. Much Love


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