acid king

Another Cool CD — Acid King – Free

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last month I wrote A post on some cool CDs. GuitarCave post #104 is all about Acid King — Free, which is actually a split of Acid King and The Mystic Krewe of Clearlight from way back in the year 2000. It’s some of the best Acid King there is and I dig it! Back in 2011 or so I wrote about Acid King’s Busse Woods disc in the Lovin’ It Loud post. This disc is more stoner rock than doom, at least when compared to Busse Woods. That doesn’t mean any heaviness or guitar wallop is sacrificed, no, no, no. The mix is a bit more spacious and the songs chug along at a nice brisk tempo. The pics of the bike and the helmet on the cover reflect the music — great driving and riding jams! And the disc art is pretty AWESOME! I started looking at it one day and when I stopped I realized it was another day. Amazing!

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I just listened to this CD the other day and realized that the 1st song on the split, Blaze In, (which is the same “theme” as the last song on the Acid King side, Blaze Out) is my favorite Acid King jam. Although it’s instrumental, the snaky, fluid guitar riffing is absolutely superb and the rhythm section of Guy Pinhas and Joey Osbourne just chug along like a pair of crash monsters should. I really love the RIFF and always have. When it kicks in Acid King sounds like a Metal Symphony. A close second favorite jam is the other brilliant song on the disc, the title cut, Free, a total ROCK ANTHEM, and if you’ve never heard it, you should just go listen to it on YouTube. It embodies everything I like about the band — great music and the guitar and vocals of Lori S. are really magnificent! I don’t want to say she is underrated as a guitarist, but she certainly deserves more attention for her skills that’s for sure. The third song 4 Minutes is the dark and DOOMY number of the disc. Great detuned guitar tone on this number whoa! HeAvY!! Great drumming too…this song really reminds me of High On Fire. Then, as I said the initial “theme” [Blaze Out] is repeated to close out a very fine and tight rockin’ disc ladies and gentlemen. If you are like me, you’ll find that this is exactly the right amount of time — not too much or too little — so that when the last song ends, your finger will already be hovering over the repeat button. I played it about 4 times in a row…I was rockin’!

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The other half of the disc that features The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight is ok, but nothing special. I’ve given it a few chances over the years and it never really grabbed me. I bought this disc from Man’s Ruin back in the day with a bunch of other stuff; some of it great, some not. By 2002 the label had imploded and many of the bands from back then have long since faded away. Acid King is one of the few (along with High on Fire) who went on to bigger and better things. I guess that is two (??) reasons this disc is another in-demand item on discogs.com but I’m glad to have it and will keep it. If this is up your listening alley and you ever have the opportunity, definitely pick it up!

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Lovin’ it Loud!

ACID KING

Acid King is one of my favorite Doom/Metal ROCK bands and Busse Woods is just a great CD. I’ve had it for years and still like to listen to it occasionally. It’s a HEAVY, minimalist deconstruction that never gets old and, as with all three of these bands, the hypnotic, repetitive nature of the riffs and parts bring to mind a type of modern-day Shamanism. Also, there is nothing cooler than the tone of Lori’s detuned guitar blasting through a Marshall stack. In addition to great writing and guitar-playing I’ve always dug how her vocals compliment the music. There aren’t a whole lot of female doomers out there and while she can certainly growl with the best of ’em, she can also sing and that isn’t a bad thing even for this kind of music. I was lucky enough to have seen the band twice over the past (whoa) decade and they didn’t disappoint. Glad to see that they are still kickin’ it. I especially love Electric Machine, Carve the 5 and the title track. Busse Woods has been reissued since I got it and now includes Motorhead by Hawkwind and Not Fragile by BTO! Yay! Electric Machine below.

Men of Porn

This was a Man’s Ruin release from the beginning of the 2000s. I still dig this disc. Inspired by heavy music of bands like The Melvins and the lunacy of noisy punk rock and experimental music, Men of Porn deliver on their debut, American Style. I saw them on the following tour and they were loud, noisy and disgusting (and I mean “disgusting” in the best possible sense). Tim Moss, guitar and founder, bangs out heavy riffs with a very gooey Orange Amp tone and coaxes all manner of noise out of his rig on this groovy disc. I especially like the brilliant 17+ minute long Coming Home (Smoking Pot On A Sunday Afternoon While UFO’s Drone Overhead), Fat Trout, and Porch Song. Melvins drummer, music legend Dale Crover and producer, engineer, musician extraordinaire Billy Anderson are now members of the MOP and have done a couple of fairly recent tours. Fans of The Melvins, Eyehategod or any of the other alt-metal acts out there will dig this because the musicianship and humor is top notch!

Kyuss

Kyuss was THE band(along with Monster Magnet) that helped usher in the resurgence in psychedelic, heavy music in the early-mid 1990s. This disc is probably their best and released in 1992 (same year as Monster Magnet’s Spine of God) it not only received a whole lot of critical acclaim, but also influenced an untold number of bands who went on to make their own brand of heavy alt-metal. Kyuss set a new standard of CRUSH because the guitars were tuned down to “C” and plugged into a Marshall head and Ampeg bass cabinet to create a heaviness not heard before, even on Black Sabbath records. Josh Homme, the band’s guitarist was barely out of his teens when this disc was made but he certainly knew how to riff and rock. The rest of the band: drummer Brant Bjork, vocalist John Garcia and bassist Nick Oliveri brought lots of heavy playing and conceptual ideas to the project, and, like Homme, have all been a part of many a great musical experience over the last almost 20 years. Kyuss is touring again right now without Homme as Kyuss Lives! and I’m sure it’s a REAL good time.

As far as the album goes, I don’t think there is a bad jam on here. It flows really nicely from the first track, Thumb through the rest of the 14 song, 50+ minutes, alternating between tight vocal-oriented songs and instrumental jams. Obviously a whole lot of thought went into the writing, playing and recording, which is probably why it is regarded by many as a really great LOUD album most people have never heard. I especially like Thumb, Green Machine, Apothecaries’ Weight (beautiful jam), Thong Song, Freedom Run…and ALL of them. Blues for the Red Sun is a real statement and an album that sounds better with each subsequent listen. There are always new things to discover and it’s definitely one to listen to in the headphones. While I do like some of the later stuff in the Kyuss catalog, they never got any better than this.

High on Fire

High on Fire - The Art of Self-DefenseHigh On Fire! The kind of band you go see or put on when you feel like running headfirst into a brick wall! The first time I saw them was in the fall of 2000 at CBGBs, the notorious Bowery club in NYC that no longer exists. It was a metal show, and I knew some of the bands on the (really packed) bill and it ended up being a fantastic time. One of the bands Boulder, had the total Judas Priest thing going on with the Flying V’s and enough Marshall stacks onstage to sink it. I think it took them longer to set up than it did for them to do their set, but they had a real interesting metal/hardcore thing going on complete with the twin leads and twisted vocals and it was pretty good. Acid King played next and were played great and totally impressed me. I bought Busse Woods right after their set. Then High on Fire came on. It was great, I mean like GRRRRRREAT! They played their Man’s Ruin release, The Art of Self-Defense,  and the song Eyes and Teeth, which would be on their 2nd release, Surrounded by Thieves, as well as a Steel Shoe.

I really dug this version of the band. It never really got any better for me after this, but I know I’m in the minority. HOF started out as Stoner Rock, really groovin’ sludgy riffs and interesting song structures and then by the time their first bass player left and they released their 3rd album, Blessed Black Wings, they turned into a full-on metal band. It was a good move for them I think, as they have been very successful; they’ve made 2 more records and have opened for Metallica in Europe, and that’s pretty friggin’ good. These guys have worked hard and toured a lot and deserve every reward that comes their way.

High on Fire - Surrounded by Thieves coverBut the stoner-rock/doom idiom is more interesting to me to listen to, and as a guitar player. I like instrumental approach and the really LONG songs that go through many complex parts and changes. This first time I saw HOF I thought they were Sabbath meets Zeppelin mixed with prog-rock and lo-fi free jazz kind of stuff. Very physical and pummeling for sure, but not the straight-ahead doom or metal played by other bands, even some of the other bands that were on the bill. There was a lot of atmosphere and dynamics and CBGBs was a great place to see a band where the guitarist and bass player were each using 3-4 cabinets. It was LOUD and standing close as I was…RIGHT IN MY FACE. AWESOME! Definitely ranks as one of the best shows ever, and I saw tons of shows at CBGBs over the years. To this day HOF have retained quite a bit of that early diversity and have never sacrificed their pummeling brutal intensity, sound and approach, so I don’t want to give the impression that I think they sold out and would understand if the band would say “hey, we’ve been doing basically the same thing all along,” because in a way, that’s true.

High on Fire-Sleeve image from 1st releaseMatt Pike is a guitar monster and has been ever since he was a youngster in the band Sleep. High on Fire, even in the beginning, with drummer Des Kensel and bass player George Rice, had a very pummeling sound. I’ve read in interviews that Matt took a jazz guitar course or two and I think I hear some John McLaughlin in his playing—definitely some Tony Iommi, Dave Murray from Iron Maiden, and Motorhead. There is this space in time where prog-rock, jazz, fusion, stoner rock and metal meet and I think in the early days, and maybe a little bit still, Matt Pike was trying to make ALL of it work for him. Like the main riff from Baghdad is just sick! and the end jam on Master of Fists and parts of  Thraft of Canaan (WTF is a “THRAFT”) sound really jazzy to me, especially the circular style drumming and the guitar soloing. When multiple styles overlap the music becomes very interesting, not only because there is so much ROCK and complex musical inspiration to draw from, but, also, the potential to create completely new hybrids of ideas and combinations is almost limitless.

High on Fire-Blessed Black WingsI learned the riffs to the Art of Self-Defense and a band I was in at the time even covered Master of Fists live. Had to drop the guitar tuning down to C for that heavy-riffing sound and just bang along. Lots of clever parts and fun riffs to do—Last, Fireface, 10,000 Years, Baghdad, Master of Fists and Blood From Zion are all total headbangers.  Surrounded by Thieves also had a lot of great stuff on it; Eyes and Teeth, Nemesis and Thraft of Canaan are all brutally beautiful. I did like Blessed Black Wings and the hooks, riffs and execution just kept getting better and better—The Face of Oblivion and Cometh Down the Hessian, Sons of Thunder (which sounds like heavy prog-rock to me) and To Cross the Bridge are just amazing. The recording sounded great, Matt’s lyrics are always totally metal and the album artwork is always really awesome too. I think he’s a guy who wants his music to take the listener somewhere, it’s not all about slaying and pummeling and throwing the horns.

These days Matt plays a custom-made 9 string guitar! How cool is that? With the 3 high strings doubled (like on a 12-string) he can get more “body” and a chorus type of effect without switching on a pedal. Since he does a lot of his riffing Iommi-style, which translates to doing most everything heavy on the 2 low strings, he can crush heavy and also have this very beautiful chorus-type of ring going on simultaneously. Brilliant!