Reviewed on 4/28/2016...
This album is a hidden classic of psychedelic rock. I still remember the first time I listened to it, and even in my car's noisy interior little sparkles of brilliance shone through, hooking me into listening again.
I've said this in other Verve reviews, but this band's music is incredibly dense, with layer-upon-layer of guitars and vocals creating an ocean-deep wave of sound that is truly overwhelming.
Many albums and songs by other artists don't hold up to the cannabis test, just sounding simplistic, boring, and repetitive, and can really bum a person out, but A Storm In Heaven is just the opposite (and so aptly named!). You might think you know this album inside-out, but when you listen on cannabis it will reveal secrets you've never heard before, like a butterfly on your shoulder whispering the meaning of the universe (Urban Hymns and Forth are also full of crazy, impossible guitar parts that you won't believe really exist until cannabis or another psychedelic reveals them to you - can't recommend it enough).
Even if you don't partake of any magical substances, this album will put you in an altered state all by itself. Ashcroft's lyrics are a poetic, prophetic stream-of-consciousness, delivered beautifully by a powerful voice that was just beginning to bloom here. The vocals dance delicately with the guitars, which are hard to describe, at times thunderous and soaring, other times soft as a drop of water hitting a still pool or a beam of sunlight through a tree's shivering leaves... always thrilling and fresh, as if you've never heard them before. Nick McCabe, the lead guitarist, is truly a genius, easily on par with Jimi Hendrix. Ashcroft gets the credit he deserves, being the more ambitious of the two, but McCabe needs more recognition... his playing is otherworldly. I generally categorise Ashcroft and McCabe with Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Daltrey and Townshend - dynamic duos who are more powerful when sparking off their creative partner than when they are apart. Salisbury and Jones are no slackers, either - couldn't be with bandmates like theirs!
Pitch-black caverns, supernova explosions, deep ocean forests, shamanic dream worlds, mountainous cloudscapes of sun and wind... find them here. My only complaint with this album is that the songs are not long enough (go watch them live to see their full incandescent glory at this stage in their career: Camden Town Hall 10/23/1992 !!!).