This is part of an ongoing series discovering and reviewing heavy metal bands in the order in which 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 is another band that I hoped to find when I started this project: Heavy. Catchy. Rockin’. The Atomic Bitchwax — Amazing name, I would have thought in my middle-school metal fan youth — offers something for everyone: surprisingly approachable pop-metal tunes mixed with all-out ragers and progressive head-scratchers. As much as the name made my lips curl, I was nodding my head from note one.
After listening to the heavy-yet-bearable sound of TAB, I was surprised to read in the Encyclopedia that it is the side project of a member of nu metal favorites (?) Monster Magnet. I’m glad that guitarist Ed Mundell branched off to explore this more classic sound, heard possibly at its most catchy in “No Way Man” from 2015’s Gravitron.
Backing up a decade to 2005’s 3, we hear a much more raw, Foo Fighters’ self-titled album–style sound. Tight riffs pair well with fuzzy distortion and solos for all on “Force Field.”
[Make yourself atomic and support this project by checking out the band’s catalog on Amazon.]
Evidence of their classic jam-band and stoner rock influences can be heard — clearly — on “Wreck You” from their 2009 offering Tab 4. This slow epic has the feel a rock album’s finale, but it’s only 10 of 11. (I nodded knowingly as I listened to the following track, “Pawn Shop.” Short comedy songs are the only acceptable album-ending post-epics; see Guns ‘N’ Roses.)
The bottom line
While unlikely to become my favorite new metal voice, The Atomic Bitchwax appears to be doing yeoman’s metal work: producing solid, approachable albums and developing their sound year after year. A session with TAB would be the perfect palette-prep before jumping into the smokey, hazy, doomey sounds of bands like Acid King.
As side projects go, I’d put them somewhere between A Perfect Circle and Damn Yankees — I’ll let you figure out exactly where they land on that spectrum (and which band is on which end.)
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