What do you get when you combine the heavy riffing of Matt Pike and Liz Buckingham with the tight songwriting of Clutch?
You get something a little like Achachak, an intriguing Stoner Rock group from Croatia hellbent on playing by their own rules—especially when it comes to writing albums.
Their latest effort, High Mountain, is a delightful Stoner Rock experience packed with surprises.
Achachak is a five-piece band from Vučipolje, Croatia, and they can trace their origins all the way back to 1999. The band members are:
- Kođo – Vocals
- Patrick – Guitar
- Luke – Guitar
- Lovre – Bass
- Lemi – Drums
Despite the band’s 22-year history, High Mountain is only their second full-length effort—a follow-up to last year’s, At the Bottom of the Sea. The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Cave Studio in Sinj, Croatia, and it was released on June 26, 2021.
High Mountain Album Review
Track One: High Mountain
Marked by thick, massive riffs and Matt Pike-style tone, “High Mountain” is a powerful opener that grabs the listener by the throat and demands attention. Although it opens and closes on a softer note, it’s the body that makes “High Mountain” an unforgettable experience.
Track Two: Lonewolf
“Lonewolf” primarily rides on a bass line and guitar riff that sound exactly like a Brant Bjork solo jam, and I nearly expected to hear his flat, rhythmic vocals enter the fray. Instead, we’re treated to Kođo’s characteristic voice. In this case, it’s almost a whisper, and that guttural delivery keeps the haunting side of the song intact.
Track Three: Captain Morning
After a short diversion in “Lonewolf,” “Captain Morning” gets us back into Achachak’s specialty: major riffs with major grooves. Although the extra slab of Doom gives “Captain Morning” a heavy rush, it’s the layered vocal delivery that truly makes this song a standout.
Track Four: Maui Waui
After three Stoner Rock tunes, “Maui Waui” rolls in as a bluesy jam celebrating the Maui Waui strain and the act of rolling your first joint. There’s a fun guitar solo in the second half, but “Maui Waui” is much of what you could expect from its title and a song rooted in the Blues.
As we’ll soon discover, “Maui Waui” is also our first hint that High Mountain is not a full album of Stoner Rock and Doom.
Track Five: Bong Goddess
“Bong Goddess” opens on a wave of attitude and swagger. And while the guitar lights the way, the rushed and spoken vocal delivery sound (for a moment) like TOOL’s “Rosetta Stoned.” If you’ve enjoyed the guitar solos so far, you’ll love the second half of “Bong Goddess.”
Track Six: Mr. SM
Slow, low, and groovy, “Mr. SM” is a blend of Stoner Rock and Psychedelic Rock.
Pro tip: If you really dig “Mr. SM” and its song structure, you might also enjoy Indus Valley Kings.
Track Seven: Creator
“Creator” kicks off with drums, which is appropriate given how fast it moves for the majority of the song. Offering some great riffs and heaps of distortion, “Creator” eventually slows into heavy, plodding chords—before moving into a pulsing rush forward. Pay close attention to the varied approach on the vocals—there are some interesting moments to enjoy.
Track Eight: Lesson
Remember when I said “Maui Waui” was our first indication that High Mountain might end up a little unpredictable?
We’ve reached the point in the album where everything is now unpredictable.
“Lesson” begins with a Spanish guitar, and after six or seven songs of Stoner Rock, it feels a bit like something from Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age.
Eventually, the Spanish guitar gives way to a heavy track that feels quite like Monster Magnet and features what may be the best lyrics on the entire album: “It’s only history, baby!”
Track Nine: Biggest Wave
“Biggest Wave” is another surprising song. Instead of any sort of Stoner Rock, “Biggest Wave” contains Mazzy Star-styled guitars and Kođo’s rough but whispered vocals. It’s the prettiest song on the album, for sure, even if it is unexpected.
Track Ten: Cozy Night
“Cozy Night” contains one final surprise: A Classic Rock-inspired tune with a clean lead guitar. We still get those gruff, hissed vocals, but “Cozy Night” largely feels like it was plucked from the ‘60s or ‘70s.
Standout Tracks: “High Mountain,” “Captain Morning,” “Bong Goddess” and “Biggest Wave”
Pros: High Mountain is fresh. Stoner Rock is sometimes panned for its lack of innovation, but the Achachak crew feel like they’re on top of their game in this album.
The musicianship is off the charts, and each song is packed with signature flourishes that push everything forward.
Bottom line: High Mountain offers an exciting blend of Stoner Rock and Doom mixed with some genuine creativity.
Cons: High Mountain is a smörgåsbord of highs and lows, Doom and Psych, trippy and Stoner Rock—and this is ultimately the album’s biggest downfall.
As we’ve discussed, the variety and creativity can be huge selling points on High Mountain, but Achachak would have benefited from choosing a singular path.
Tracks like “Biggest Wave” and “Cozy Night” are well-written, but they’re out of place on an album that opens with killer guitars and waves of Stoner Rock.
High Mountain would have been an impeccable EP if tracks four, eight, nine, and ten were stripped from it.
As it currently stands, High Mountain is an entertaining album that loses points for inconsistency.