Although revered in underground circles, San Antonio-based doom metal band Las Cruces have been plagued with an even slower release schedule than their heavy riffs.
Formed 28 years ago, the band released two 90s albums that garnered critical acclaim and helped them land enviable spots at metal festivals. However, since then revolving door lineup changes have prevented him from releasing anything other than a 2010 EP.
This means the long-awaited new album from Las Cruces, cosmic tears – released last month on high-profile stoner label Ripple Music – took a dozen years to prepare. The band will perform on Saturday July 23 at the Burleson Yard Beer Garden to celebrate the new LP with Peth and XIL rounding out the line-up.
In the years since Las Cruces’ last release, doom has undergone the same sub-genrefication as the rest of metal, with bands delving into narrow specialties such as death doom, funeral doom and the like. This could spell trouble for a set determined to keep up with ever-changing tastes and trends.
Fortunately, on cosmic tears, Las Cruces play to their core strength: delivering the kind of hard, timeless riffs, slow tempos, and ominous atmosphere pioneered by bands such as Black Sabbath and Trouble. Sadly, the album was the last from drummer Paul DeLeon, whose often introspective lyrics seemed to predict his own death in 2021 during the COVID pandemic.
Despite DeLeon’s untimely passing and the eerie sound of the recording, it feels like something of a rebirth for Las Cruces — thanks in part to new vocalist Jason Kane, whose powerful tenor brings accessibility to the proceedings. While doom metal too often suffers from vocalists whose anonymous post-Ozzy mews are better buried in the mix, Kane is a powerful and emotive presence.
The approach is particularly effective on cosmic tears‘ epic track, a nearly eight-minute showcase for the band’s versatility. An eerie, angular opening riff gives way to subdued, mournful verses, soaring choruses, and a resounding interlude full of wah-like pyrotechnics from guitarists Mando Tovar and George Treviño. Along the way, DeLeon’s drum work highlights the dynamic, toms rumble in all the right places, the bass drum driving as the song reaches full throttle.
On “Wizard of the North” and “Egypt,” the clarity of Kane’s vocals evokes the eerie fantasies of the lyrics, setting them apart from the suitably thick, wavering riffs. Jimmy Bell’s slick bass opens “Terminal Drift,” a psychedelic interlude that offers some respite from the heaviness. Although more understated, the melody sacrifices nothing to the album’s pervasive sense of calamity.
At the end, cosmic tears is a 10-track doom masterpiece with the potential to satiate patient Las Cruces fans while appealing to a new generation of listeners looking for a dose of heavy stuff. Let’s just hope the band won’t take 12 years to release the sequel.
Free, 8 p.m., Saturday, July 23, Burleson Yard Beer Garden, 430 Austin St., (210) 354-3001, burlesonyardbeergarden.com.
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