Yes, “the godfathers of stoner rock.” Yes, the pioneers of heavy metal. All of this is true regarding Sir Lord Baltimore and, of course, their self-titled LP and Kingdom Come are two of those great records where not a second is wasted. Setting aside amazing amazing songwriting and performances, what makes these albums for me is the sound.
From Link Wray’s alleged slashed speakers to the alien ringing tone Tony Iommi conjured for the solo on “Paranoid,” distortion wasn’t just a way a guitar could sound, it was the star of the show and the way the guitarist in question would achieve said sweet saturation was the stuff of legends. What stands out to me about Sir Lord Baltimore is how careful they layered their fairly common overdriven tones to end up being otherworldly, like a dog attacking a beehive while the band did what they did best: rock in an uncomplicated way.
The band’s first two albums are the stuff 70s rock dreams were made of — the soul of transistors functioning at full capacity about to give up makes this seem like it came from nowhere at God-knows-when o’clock; it’s the reason there are bands today still finding the perfect vintage fuzzbox to sound like martians riding choppers. Baltimore conjured one of the most wicked sounds in rock and smeared it on some premium riffage, recorded it for posterity and so lesser bands might smoke out and think “why don’t my songs sound like that?”