By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Harnessing a driving, distorted groove and swirling, mind-expanding soundscapes, psych band Ecstatic Vision has earned widespread acclaim with some of the most potent worship at the altar of Hawkwind this side of Monster Magnet’s first two recordings. Rising from the ashes of Philadelphia metalcore band A Life Once Lost late in 2013, Ecstatic Vision was formed with the aim of exploring a decidedly different direction in heavy music.

Led by A Life Once Lost co-founder and guitarist Doug Sabolik — drummer Ricky Kulp and bassist Michael Field Connor round out the group — Ecstatic Vision uses classic Space Ritual-era Hawkwind as a touchstone, but interweaves numerous other sounds in the ferociously psychedelic songs heard on the band’s Relapse Records debut Sonic Praise that came out in 2015.

Mixing African percussion inspired in part by Olatunji’s landmark recording Drums of Passion with the propulsive space rock of Hawkwind and intense proto-punk riffs that recall Detroit icons the MC5 and the Stooges, Ecstatic Vision embraces a tribal, ritualistic sound that it kicks into overdrive when performing live onstage. Early national tours with such heavyweight acts as YOB, Enslaved and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats helped spread the gospel of the group’s kinetic, mind-altering grooves.

The band would maintain a busy schedule, traveling through Europe and playing the famed Dutch heavy stoner/psych festival Roadburn as well as shows with iconic American doom pioneers Pentagram and Bang. In 2017, the band released its second album Raw Rock Fury that featured the talents of new fourth member, multi-instrumentalist Kevin Nickles (saxophone/flute/guitar), who helped push Ecstatic Vision into unchartered territory with his added Beefheart/Coltrane skronk.

The band comes back to San Francisco on Thursday night to promote it’s latest effort, an EP of covers entitled Under the Influence released through European imprint Heavy Psych Sounds earlier this month. Paying tribute to some of the band’s more apparent inspirations (they deliver scorching versions of Hawkwind’s “Born To Go” and “Master of the Universe” and the MC5’s “Come Together”) rounded out by a trio of more obscure African psych gems by Amanaz, Keith Mlevhu and Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family. The Philly band headlines this show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall, sharing the stage with LA stoner-metal favorites Sasquatch, who play songs from their most recent salvo of tuneful skull crushers Maneuvers. Grungy SF psych rock trio Milk For The Angry opens the show.

Ecstatic Vision with Sasquatch
Thursday, May 24, 8 p.m. $15
Brick & Mortar Music Hall


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