Formed in 1992 in Toronto, Canada, by Detroit expatriate Ken Bluke, Sons of Otis have pounded out some of the lowest, slowest space rock on record.
The band originally consisted of just Bluke and was called Otis (after a character in the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). Otis self-released a debut EP, Paid to Suffer, under that one-word moniker in 1994 after bassist Frank Sargeant joined up to aid Bluke in his search for the perfect stoner tonality. The group slowly built a solid underground following and in 1996, they were signed to Hypnotic/MCA. This brief partnership produced the band's first full-length disc, SpaceJumboFudge, as the "Sons of" was added to their name to avoid legal problems with another act with which they were unwittingly sharing "Otis." Bluke and Sargeant had extreme difficulty finding a drummer and after going through a legion of them, they simply used a drum machine on SpaceJumboFudge. This was quite a development considering Bluke's die-hard passion for vintage equipment and the analog sound creation and recording methodology. The music didn't suffer from this modern infringement and Sons of Otis fans were popping up everywhere, especially in Europe where heavy music's viability never waned to the degree that it did in North America. After quickly becoming disillusioned with their label, Sons of Otis fled to Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin for proper ultra-hip stoner/space rock incubation. In 1999, Man's Ruin released Templeball and fans of stoner, doom, and space rockers like Sleep, Kyuss, and Electric Wizard really began to catch on. Many positive reviews and higher profile tours and performances followed as Sons of Otis built their reputation as an original and singularly heavy outfit. A re-release of SpaceJumboFudge hit stores in 2000 and the group followed up their Man's Ruin offerings with Songs for Worship in 2001 on their third label, The Music Cartel. When Ryan Aubin (formerly of Canada's Shallow North Dakota) officially joined up, he put an end to the years of fill-in drummers and Sons of Otis were primed for their first fully coordinated sonic attack on subs and woofers everywhere. Songs for Worship demonstrates the truth of this serendipitous musical convergence and is perhaps the group's most definitive release. The music is dense to say the least. Bluke's vocals float in the sludgy grind -- indiscernible, but darkly spirited -- while the impossibly low guitars and bass issue the core of Sons of Otis' sound. The slow, post-Sabbath riffs belch and purr like a giant tranquilized cat, asleep, dreaming of kills in slow motion. Pusher followed it up in the summer of 2002, introducing a more hard rock-oriented direction and leaving behind some of the heaviness of the past for a more aggressive approach. Spooky and trippy with an air of evil, but not so serious as to scare smokers trying to get lost in space, Sons of Otis take listeners for a visceral trip deep inside the earth -- beneath the hard rock mantle and down to the magma where the energy of life is stored, all the while separating body and mind. The former buried deep in terrestrial airlessness while the latter spins off toward a giant black whole at the galaxy's center. ~ Vincent Jeffries, Rovi