“In a small, secluded mining town in rural South Africa, three friends heard the call of the void, and spat fuzz back at it. Thus, Ruff Majik was formed, and the boys decided it was time to move to the city to spread their gospel of riff worship and sound sorcery.”
Reviewed by The Mad Mane
When I first saw the band’s logo it just breathed “Mayhem”. Given the cadaverous paint that adorns the promo photos, my first guess was these guys from down south were a black metal outfit (must be for the Schizophrenic video). It seems I was relying on stereotypes, but don’t let that fool you either. This South African trio Ruff Majik are fuzz-soaked progenitors. And should you happen to associate fuzz with lots of reverb, then you can kick with it champ.
I wouldn’t be surprised with their admiration for this band, more so given their choice occultic name. What seems to be the case here is an Alunah style stoner doom – but leaning heavily on its stoner rock – wrapped under a coating of blues with of course a male sound-hammer. There are some sludge influences that can be heard, as on I’ll Dig the Grave, which underscores the overall heavy as a bough feel and drag of the track – as “non-dirty” (sounding) as sludge can get, so to speak. It is much more apparent as the song approaches closure, and it is darn easy to get lost in this mire of sound. With a large number of hipsters, the stoner genre attracts a larger following. The fanbase narrows as you move to doom and further down as you traverse to the heavier side i.e. sludge.
Just as the name goes, the music is “rough” – to put it precisely, very retro. It is throwback stoner doom with pinches and helpings of blues to make a Kyuss or Sleep fan press repeat to compensate for their normal listening times. Or should I say overcompensate? In the song Schizophrenic there is a tremolo picked gushing of an addictive hook of a riff, right after the isolated six seconds of strumming. It completely invokes grief and given those accompanying vocals, it is a dirge to the listener. The first solo of this track is blues-drenched, followed by a doom-laden rhythm section – which then underscores the stoner stroked leads – leads that are as heavy as a pace-fully snaking train.
When sludge rears its (not so ugly ) head again – on Dread Breath – it bequeaths some fat breakdowns in its wake such that I wished were much more heavy to trim out some of the sugary butter that comes out of the blues-laced sections of this album. Not far from what you’d find in a cheesy or camp horror flick, the synth entrance to Seasoning the Witch keeps up the blurry sonic vision the band seems to be aiming for and this pretty much signifies its effectiveness for this the album.
On the underside, the blurry sonic vision they are so dead-set on, in pursuit of an older sound really works against them as it sometimes pilfers discernibility in each track to account for significance once one is through with the record as a whole. It also acts as the marsh where the vocalist gets his singing half-trapped in, making the music drown his vocals to an extent. The production could have fared way better with a tad polishing but still maintain a retro sound. This is somewhat a fort of a record, and likely to be blasting out from the doors of smoky (seedy) backrooms.