This is part of an ongoing series of discovering and reviewing heavy metal bands in the order that they appear in The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal by Daniel Bukszpan. Check out the rest of the series and stay tuned for new reviews each week. Until I finish this book, stay heavy, my friends.
This week, I’m getting back to the original vision of this project: to discover new bands and new sounds; to stretch my comfort zone; to find myself, after thirty minutes of solid stoner metal, with my eyelids involuntarily fluttering and my jaw hanging slack as I struggle to stay focused on the screen.
The Encyclopedia describes the singing of Acid King singer Lori S. as “reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick, stuck at the bottom of a well…with a broken leg.” Intrigued, I found a few of the band’s more popular tracks to get my first real taste of slow, plodding stoner metal.
“Carve the 5,” weighing in at 9.5 minutes, might be the best place to start if you are the sort who likes to dive in headfirst rather than dip a cautious toe. It seems to represent Acid King in their superlative — 60 bpm, distorted bass, lyrics about a serial killer disposing of the bodies of his victims — so you’ll know right away if Acid King is for you.
Another swaying, hazy track is “2 Wheel Nation” from the band’s 2005 offering III. At a blazing — relatively — 84 bpm, this one will have you bobbing your head and digging in the back of your junk drawer for that Wild Berry Fizzy Pop incense stick you know you buried there after you visited that weird record store. Where was that place? I can’t remember…
[For more acidic goodness, or if you want to re-order some of that Fizzy Pop incense, support this project by taking a look at Amazon’s Acid King offerings here.]
Moving forward to 2014, let’s take a look at the self-explanatory “Evil Satan” from Zoroaster. The band’s almost-noise-rock-but-not-quite-noise-rock-because-good-lord-have-you-ever-heard-real-noise-rock sound continues to develop, somehow getting dirtier and grimier as the recording and mixing quality increases. Lori’s characteristic wails waver on the edge of the tonal cliff, creating an eyebrow-raising pitchiness that I’m sure is intentional — and effective.
The Bottom Line
Small-niche bands like Acid King are a tricky beast — if you are a fan of the stoner rock sound, chances are you’re already well aware of these veritable giants of the genre; if your drawers are suspiciously incense-free, you’re unlikely to get hooked on this kind of music.
Either way, as I will say of every band, it’s worth a listen and an exploration — if for no other reason than to hear what else is out there. Listening to Acid King has been a good experience for me, and who knows, maybe you have some dormant love for buzzy stoner rock buried somewhere deep, deep in your psyche.
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