San Diegos reigning third-ear blackeners.
San Diego's reigning third-ear blackeners. (Nice Hawkwind t-shirt!) Ed Dominick

Earthless, "Volt Rush" (Nuclear Blast)

San Diego trio Earthless always struck me as stoner-rockers who could play their asses off, which distinguished them from the hordes of their ilk who often merely ride bongwatery riffs, run everything through an array of FX pedals for 20 minutes, and call it good, dude. As Stranger freelancer Brian Cook astutely observed five years ago, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell is the band's superstar, “[blazing] with the electric soul of Hendrix, the dexterous stab of D. Boon, and the warped blues of the Groundhogs’ Tony McPhee.” Luckily for us, Mitchell has a potent, swinging rhythm section—drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton—supporting his six-string fireworks.

Earthless are touring behind their latest album, Black Heaven, a son of a bitch's brew of song-oriented, third-ear blackeners that should appeal to fans of heavy psych-rockers Monster Magnet, Howlin' Rain, and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound. "Volt Rush" is the new record's anomaly, though: a curt eruption of meth-y metal that could be Earthless' tribute to Blue Cheer's "Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger," with all the filigreed, sinewy flame-outs that that implies. If Earthless play this tonight at Chop Suey (where they headline a bill with Head Band, accompanied by the Mad Alchemy liquid light show), expect spiking adrenaline levels and mosh-pit anarchy.