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lunedì 9 dicembre 2013

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Mind Control

#FOR FANS OF: Psych Rock/Doom
I’m surprised that I haven’t seen too many reviews on more well published sites either. This was surprising to me, given the endless praise and hype given to the band’s second album 'Bloodlust'. If I am being frank, that album single handedly restored my faith in today’s heavy music scene. Having drifted off the path of brutality for a few years, I was instead plying myself with heaps of albums from the sixties and seventies, usually in the heavy going proto metal/punk variety, but also huge splashes of psychedelic (which often went hand in hand with those styles). I was blown away upon hearing this band for the first time; their fusion of doom with classic and psychedelic sounds was seamless, and when coupled with the Uncle’s strange vocals and the band’s mysterious horror and drug laced image (or lack thereof), 'Bloodlust' simply took on a life of its own. Anyway, by the time the band was grabbing a lot of attention, 'Mind Control' wasn’t too far off. As a firm acolyte, I was both excited for more material, and also fearful that the band simply would not be able to re-create the magic of their sophomore album. For this listener, 'Mind Control' stands strong on it’s own as a well crafted and creative album, but not without a few minor tweaks to the formula. The biggest difference here is that the Uncle is backed by a different set of Deadbeats, including an additional guitarist/vocalist in Yotam Rubinger, who has much to do with the record’s sound as a whole. Uncle Acid’s signature trait would have to be his otherworldly vocals, which were double tracked on 'Bloodlust' to great effect. Here however, the extra vocals are handled by Yotam, whose voice and pitch is slightly lower and more “normal” sounding than the Uncle’s crazed vocals. So that’s a big change right there, as the vocals tone isn't always reminiscent of the previous album, and that may make mean a big difference for fans who want more of the same. For me it works fine, and I like that they are not trying to rely on the vocals as a gimmick. Like the previous album, this one also follows a certain concept, but this time the very British natured and Hammer horror styled lyrics are replaced with a tale more in the late sixties biker gang/exploitation mould. I would even go out on a limb here and say that this could have something to do with the change in sound overall, with this record sounding a bit more American in tone and style, as opposed to the obvious English nods on 'Bloodlust'. Don’t worry though; the recording is still raw and the songs are still packed with heavy riffs and endless hooks, they are just a tad less sloppy this time. “Mind Crawler” employs some Stooges style chiming keys, the rhythm of which will just cement the song into your brain. “Evil Love” is a driving up tempo rocker, with heavy hints of Maiden, but Acid’s vocals and weird phrasing push the song into stranger territories than Maiden have voyaged to. “Death Valley Blues” has a certain playful Beatles-esque sound, but comes across just downright creepy as it evolves. One of the stranger experiments comes in the form of “Follow the Leader”, a genuine stab at total hippie raga rock, complete with tambourines, droning fuzz guitar, and what to me sounds like slide guitar imitating a sitar, though it could be the real thing. Surprisingly it turns out to be extremely well done, and as a fan of certain records with that sound, to me it comes off as pretty authentic, and could have turned up on a Chocolate Watchband album. “Valley of the Doll’s makes more references to sixties American culture in addition to having one of the bands downright best main riffs, a crushing monster of a doom riff with an almost upbeat melodic twist, which is later accompanied by a particularly warm, and emotive solo. Honestly there are a lot of great moments on this album, too many to try and list anyway. Part of the fun about this band is the sense of mystery they carry, so I’ll leave the rest up to you. If, however you still need some convincing, just know that this, like 'Bloodlust', is another great set of songs with nary a weak moment to be found. 'Mind Control' didn't seem to get quite the reception as the former album, but I am an American, and the band still haven’t been over here yet, so maybe I’m just not seeing it. In any case, they are still one of the best bands around today, and hopefully we can look forward to more tastefully morbid sounds from these whacked out Brits. (Nick Ryder)

(Rise Above Records - 2013)
Score: 95