Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska (SDBIA) is a strange name for a band, especially considering the mind-bending psychedelic four-piece hails from England. But then again, nothing about Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska fits conventional categories. The name, by the way, is a reference to the 1998 video game Metal Gear Solid, in case you were wondering.
The best psychedelic music puts you on a trip to unknown lands, whether in space or deep in your own imagination. You can be high while listening, but you don’t have to be. In fact, the best psych rock makes you feel high.
This is perhaps the best way to describe SDBIA’s new record Interstellic Psychedelic, a freaked-out journey that combines elements of space rock, krautrock, and even some free-form jazz that has been keeping me hypnotized every time I turn it on.
About Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska
SDBIA was initially formed in 2015, playing under the name of Broken Drone. The band originally had a more metal sound with some psych elements, according to Aaron Bertram (bass and vocals). But they’ve since traveled deep into space, expanding their sound with heavy experimentation.
Aaron explained in an interview that the band relies heavily on jamming and improvisation, as their songwriting process is very relaxed, and they record almost everything, including rehearsals. Once you listen to their music, you’ll understand why this is the case. SDBIA isn’t precisely a jam band, but they have the same feel of one, recording several extended jams that go in unexpected directions.
Interstellic Psychedelic is their second full-length album, but they’ve released plenty of other material, including a trilogy of EPs entitled Rituals and a split with Japanese guitarist and musician Suzuki Junzo that you can find on Bandcamp.
Snakes Don’t Belong in Alaska is:
- Aaron Bertram (bass & vocals)
- Alex Johnston: (drums & percussion)
- Phillip Brookes (keys & synth)
- Jarrid Kolodnicki (guitar)
About Interstellic Psychedelic
Record Label: Catacomb Family Records
Snakes’ vocalist Bertman says one of his biggest musical influences is Hawkwind, the legendary Space Rock pioneers from England and contemporaries of Pink Floyd. The influence of Hawkwind is apparent with SDBIA, and it gives us a frame of reference for the band’s experimental style.
The album kicks off with “Spectral Attraction,” the shortest track and one that features some excellent guitar-playing. Bertman repeats the mantra, “The interstellic psychedelic will keep us all alive” throughout, while the band slithers through space in the background like cosmic snakes. It’s an excellent opener to the album and sets the tone because trust me, it only gets weirder.
“Cosmic Prophet” is the next track, breaking in with a heavy, fuzzed-out riff to die for, dueling guitars, and freaky sound effects. You’ll want to play this song with your best headphones on. The keys and synth appear midway through, adding to the sonic feast. It’s a killer instrumental track.
Next up, we “Enter the Psychedemic” and go further down the rabbit hole. Bertman’s spoken-word vocals and lyrics are excellent, reminding me of a tripped-out Jim Morrison and another contemporary band who does this well, All Them Witches. The psyched-out jam slinks and cruises along until kicking into overdrive. By the end, Bertman is screaming at us, a mad prophet telling us we’ve lost our minds; not the first time someone has accused me of that.
“Hoffman Effect” clocks in at just over eight minutes, another track featuring Bertman’s wild, frantic accusations against the listener. By this point in the record, it’s as if we’re deep in a bad acid trip, and we’re stuck. The guitars and distortion create a disorienting effect like blinking strobe lights.
“Nature of the Evil Within” closes the album, the longest track, opening with Bertman’s spoken word poetry about a predator or demonic being. It’s the most free-form song on the album, probably thanks to Snakes’ improv style. Halfway through, Bertman is yelling at us to “repent!” and the psycho-religious overtones are awesome.
I discovered Interstellic Psychedelic while digging through new releases after joining Doom Charts as a contributor recently. The album made the cut for the top 40 in the Doom Charts August edition, and I think it’s much deserved.
Snakes’ new album is Heavy Psych, but it also pushes the boundaries of genre and goes in directions you wouldn’t expect. I found this refreshing. The musicianship is excellent, and what I liked most are Bertman’s wild lyrics and spoken-word vocal style. This is the type of album to put on with the black light and lava lamp going, a trip back in time to earlier psych influences like Hawkwind but with a rougher edge and freakier style.
Standout Tracks: “Spectral Attraction,” “Cosmic Prophet,” “Nature of Evil Within”