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by Sheldon Birnie

The barren landscape before you is obscured in a thick, pungent haze as the red orb of the sun begins to climb the horizon. The earth beneath your feet is charred and oozing, like the flesh on a burn victim’s face. The air is still, but your head buzzes with the terrible knowledge that something cataclysmic has just transpired. Only you can’t remember what it was. The only sound that can be heard is the ringing drone where your eardrums used to be. Are your ears bleeding? Yes. Yes they are.

This is aural experience of “Real Horse Footage,” the first track off Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns’ new album Brotherhood of the Ram. Recorded during the bitter cold of winter in rural Saskatchewan by their buddy Chad Mason, and clocking in with six doom heavy tunes over two sides, Brotherhood picks up where Born to Deal in Magic – their debut LP, which was long-listed for the Polaris Prize in 2012—left off. Just as heavy, but more exploratory of other psychedelic and drone influences than their debut, Brotherhood is sure to cement the band’s reputation as purveyors of some of the finest stoner rock that Canada has to offer.

“We recorded [the album] over a few weekends over the last six months,” guitar player Chris Laramee tells Stylus over the phone from Saskatoon. Rounded out by Steve Reed (drums), Jim Ginther (drums), Keith Doepker (guitar) and Jay Loos (guitar), Shooting Guns are preparing to cross this barren wasteland on their Fuckin Rites Canadian Tour in support of the new album. With the first stop in Winnipeg, followed by appearances at NXNE in Toronto and Sled Island in Calgary, the band will be busy for the month of June, melting minds and getting weird at all points in between.

Rounding the first side of Brotherhood is a driving exploration of adrenaline gone haywire on “Motherfuckers Never Learn,” followed by “Predator II,” a brooding mediation in sheer terror.

“It’s a stalker of a track,” admits Laramee with a chuckle. “It was like, yes, this could be in a movie! And if it was a pre-existing movie, it would be Predator II. I love those movies!”

“Some of those [tunes] have been around since we started, in various forms. A couple of them were literally about three or four years old. We go through jam tapes and just excavate everything … We made a conscious effort to get some of that quieter stuff on there. Like the second side is sort of a little more textured than just a straight blare the whole time.”

Indeed, the second side finds the listener, who has at this point safely eluded his alien stalker stumbling around the charred remains of earth in a blind panic (“Go  Blind”). Does your blindness have something to do with the chemical warfare our extraterrestrial attackers rained down on us? Or was the listener staring too long at the sun?

It is difficult to truly tell, but for those interested, Shooting Guns will have copies of the new album available on cassette tape during their June 8 stop in Winnipeg. For those who can’t wait for the vinyl, which Laramee estimates will be available online by September, the band will also be providing downloads.

“I actually just got a tape duplicator,” Laramee explains, clearly excited by the prospects of unlimited dubbing that awaits. “We’re going to make a bunch of tapes for the tour. I just ordered all the tapes, just before you called. So we’ll do like 30 or 50, with download cards. And vinyl we want, of course, it just might take a little bit longer.”

The band, who are a self-described “pentacle of degenerate vinyl collectors,” are as excited to be performing their new material to fans of heavy, instrumental psych across Canada as they are about many of the bands they’ll be sharing the stage with along the way.

“At NXNE, we’re playing with a band called Hawkeyes,” says Chris. “They’re like four guitars, bass and drums. Just moltenly heavy psychedelic. Just crazy.” He also mentions Toronto psychedlic rockers Comet Control, Edmonton’s Krang, and fellow Saskatooners Powder Blue (the latter two are also performing at Sled Island at the end of June). Laramee also tells Stylus that the band is itching to get into the studio again once the Fuckin Rites Canadian Tour is wrapped up.

“When we get back we’re going to hopefully do some more recording. We got some new song,” he says. “We’ll probably have something else out, I don’t know what format it’ll be in, but we’ll probably have something new in the fall, too. Another whole album hopefully. There’s no shortage of riffs banging around.”

Get ye to the Windsor on Saturday, June 8th and prepare to get deep into the weird zone, as Shooting Guns perform with Satanic Rites, Talon, and Solar Coffin. Cost is $10 at the door.