Acid King – III Review

Originally written by Nin Chan

Acid King have always kicked your hiney. To longstanding admirers of this frighteningly dense, heavy outfit, this truth has always been as irrefutable as gravity, the power trio searing paths of claustrophobic psychedelia that only the most hardened acid rock connoisseurs dare to tread. From their debut 10” to the sublime split with instro-stoners Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, Acid King have stuffed their recordings with serpentine grooves that sneak up on unsuspecting listeners and induce lethal cases of whiplash, presenting acid-drenched excursions into the the hallucinatory recesses of the human psyche, journeys from which there often is no return. Palpably heavy, the Acid King sound is a reminder of every drug-induced trip you ever embarked upon, ushering dangerous waves of intoxicating frequencies that caress your consciousness and coax you into submission. While the street cred of both Lori S and Guy Pinhas is obvious, Acid King have to this point been a somewhat hush-hush proposition, a sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge secret handshake savored largely by stoner rock scenesters. Here, then, is another punishing slab of dark, bluesy, authentic doom rock, issued by perhaps THE foremost stoner label in the biz, Small Stone, and FUCK, does it DESTROY!

As excruciatingly heavy as Acid King have been their whole careers, they have always had a sophisticated sheen to their music, a soulful musicality that has made them far more listenable and approachable than many of their more uncompromisingly tuneless brethren. Their sound is oppressive, sure, but more subtly so than say, latter day Sleep. Instead, there is a wandering, superbly melodic fuzzy dimension that shares more with the spacey explorations of Sons of Otis and the angular tentativeness of Kyuss than the cruelty of a Warhorse. “III” might really be the most welcoming Acid King work to date, “Wheel Nation” exhibiting an irresistible, headcrushing, ominous groove that recalls Electric Wizard’s less blaring moments. An insanely distorted bassline guides this track, while Lori’s ethereal croons catapult the listener to stoned-out NIRVANA, I dare say that this is one of the finest tunes Acid King have penned to date- everything just FLOWS, the groove is so damn fat it never outstays its welcome, the guitar and bass tone are absolutely PERFECT, and the lead that surfaces in the bridge is just overwhelmingly elegant and tasteful.

This holds true for much of the record, which, while allowing enough sonic space for each instrument to pursue its own individual avenues if the need arises and radiating a loose, exploratory feel, displays the most fiercely honed and streamlined Acid King work to date. What I mean is, even though some creative basslines surface here and there (in true power trio fashion), and the guitar breaks into a lead melody to add piquancy to the SLOWWWW ooze of the album, as a whole this power trio coagulates into one sinewy black mass, all coalescing as one magma thick puddle of primordial sludge and tunneling itself into your cranium. You CANNOT show resistance to the mystifyingly hypnotic rhythms of “Heavy Load”, all ushered along some FANTASTIC, supple bass work by Guy Pinhas and the deadpan, haunting, disaffected croons of Lori. Fast forward to “Bad Vision”, the most succinct and “pop” number in the fray, where Lori’s vocals are drenched in echo and reach otherworldly proportions, pushed all the way to the front of the mix and soaring above the apocalyptic rumble of the rhythm section. There is an almost shoegazer sensibility to this track, emanating a smokey wall of sound that has all the entrancing charm of a Slowdive…of course, when the HUGE breakdown in the hook erupts, all complacency is placed aside and you are forced, invariably, to thrust your horns to the sky.

Production here is distinctively Billy Anderson- he places a pronounced emphasis on the low end here, but not in an overbearing and awkward fashion, infusing each instrument with individual character while acutely aware of their function in the mix, rolling them all up into one homogenous, organic whole. A sonic architect of the highest order, Billy Anderson has over the years placed a thumbprint on a sound that is his and his alone- it works so fucking well for this kind of music that I can’t even begin to speak on it. Everything is thick, dense and massive, without being muddy enough to cloak the inherent musicality and melodious tunefulness of the band’s style. In many ways, Acid King reflect the ethos that fuels Guy Pinhas’ more celebrated project, the mindwarping Goatsnake, who apply a distinctly song-driven pop format to the mercilessly heavy framework of trad-school doom, juxtaposing slow n’ low heaviness with a keen sense of melody and groove.

There is such a nefarious, sinister edge to the enchanting tunes here, Lori’s vocals resembling some sort of doom siren or harpy alluring all to a drug-induced grave. It is quite likely that you will hover into another headspace while playing this record, the lead-heavy grooves coercing you to let your hair down and lay on the ground, babbling some shamanic Satanic code as the subsonic frequencies eclipse your better judgment. Sure, you have to be patient with this record, for it is a record that SHOULD be digested as a whole- it flows seamlessly from track to track, and would feel disjointed if you were to single one out, for they function much better in a grander context, interconnected with what comes before and after it. If you lack such patience (and I fail to see why, considering this is by far the most inviting Acid King record musically), it is more than likely that you will find this to be insufferably boring and tedious. To those of you who have a more formidable (drug-induced) attention span, this record bears many rewards for the lot of you. Arguably the most well-written effort from one of the most consistently excellent outfits in the stoner/doom circuit. If you like Ufomammut, Electric Wizard, Sleep, Ramesses, Church of Misery, this will kick your TAIL! AGAIN!

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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