Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Acid King has been resurrected, or considering they never truly stopped, prodded and awoken. Lori S began this monstrous project back in 1993. They have three full-lengths. Ten years without one has made fans crave fervently. Aided by the production skills of doom/stoner icon, Billy Anderson, Acid King’s new songs rival and surpass your favorite oldies.
Lori S, and consistent (save on year of touring) drummer since inception, Joey Osbourne, added Mark Lamb on bass back in 2008. So hile this may be Lamb’s first recorded effort, he has been playing with the band for seven years. The release of this album, as opposed to back in the mid nineties, is that it is done in a realm where doom and stoner riffs are ubiquitous. Acid King were playing dirty, scant bars when Trouble, Melvins, Sleep, and COC were the rebirth of Sabbath, Obsessed and Saint Vitus. Roadsaw, Kyuss, Sleep and Electric Wizard were gestating.
Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere is a continuation of this nurturing. This is not a stoke of nostalgia or coincidence. The album was an intentional declaration that the previous decade of touring has forged a stronger, heavier version of Acid King. Lori S is clear about her intent to record and release an album that shows their chops after two decades of riff mangling.
An atmospheric “Intro” opens up and tickles our ears to remind us what we have been missing. The first full track is an expansive, “Silent Pictures”, running over nine minutes. The slow pace rivals champions of sloth like Conan or Saint Vitus. Lori S, who reports relearning her vocal approach through the coaching and the wisdom of Anderson, adds a haunting atmosphere to her solemn words. The second track, “Coming Down from Outer Space”, has more going on despite the syrup speed. The drums are much more active, adding texture and an elemental depth to the track. Thick, corrosive riffs course slowly entrap the listener in a dungeon of twisted visions.
The dirty fuzzy biker doom is triumphant in “Laser Headlights”. Morose and filthy, the riff lingers with caustic reverberation. Low end splendor echoes as rhythmic drums bounce in the background. Anderson’s technique of mixing drums must be fortified in his style. The cymbals add to the overall aesthetic, splashing, but never have a distinct hit; no clean, high pitch or clang to them.
Boasting tracks that last six to nine minutes, Acid King have many moments to add to their library of riffs. “Infinite Skies” smears the ‘heavy’ completely through the quicksand-like entity known as this album. Again, the rumblings of unsettled drums supply depth beyond the guitars. The last full song, the title track, drags a particularly handsome riff through nine minutes. Then, as the verse begins, reverb and tremolo play with a lighter guitar line, which bandies in my headphones. Lori’s words, lushly spoken, surround and echo in my skull. The bridge drops back down to a dark heavy break. Whether these moments are calculated or spawn from jamming, the cosmic trip is mesmerizing.
Distortion could be considered a fourth member here. The Gibson SG that Lori wrings incites a slow burning oil fire of thick, heavy tracks. Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere certainly rivals Acid King’s riff-steeped history. Killer art by tattooer, Tim Lehi, add a mystique to the Bay Area band’s catalogue. This return to studio should reap all the rewards of a genre they helped to build. I hope the kids just discovering this music through ‘bigger’ bands stumble backwards to Acid King’s discography and then come back to the present swoop this classic up as well. (Hutch)
RIYL: St Vitus, Earthride, Orange Goblin, The Obsessed, Kylesa, COC, Sourvein, Electric Wizard, Sleep