I thought that I had finally shaken free from the grip in which the mysterious Uncle Acid and his Deadbeats had held me. After being initiated into his satanic cult of Blood Lust and the rituals of frenzy that it had inspired, I’d spent the past few months under observation and recovery. The winds no longer spoke his name, and I no longer felt his psychic pull on my will.
But then, his silence was broken. First, a taste of things to come appeared in the form of a “Poison Apple.” Then, a full communiqué. It was with some trepidation that I approached the missive from Uncle. After I cracked it open, the old feelings were back again. Uncle Acid was calling out for lost family to return to the fold and take a trip with him out into the desert. Seems something…bloody went down earlier, and he needs to rebuild his army of followers for these Final Days.
This is what it sounds like when the psychedelia turns ugly, children. Sure, Blood Lust was a mind-melting freakout of throbbing, pulsing LSD visions translated into music via the influence of mid-‘60s garage punk, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Hammer flicks, Neil Young and Black Sabbath. But this is what happens when STP creeps into the scene and everyone decides to move out to Spahn Ranch with this guy who claims he’s Jesus and the Devil. Likes the White Album a lot.
Opener “Mt. Abraxas” is a hint of the swirling colors of darkness you’ll find at the bottom as you descend into the album’s sonic swamp. At just over seven minutes, it creepy-crawls its way into your mind much like Blood Lust’s “Curse in the Trees” with a few added hints of Dinosaur, Jr.-esque melancholy, before taking some strategic time changes that shift into overdrive and back into slow-motion menace. “Mind Crawler” picks things up with a churning garage riff (and what sounds like an “I Wanna Be Your Dog” single piano key solo through the song’s length). After the hooks of “Poison Apple” pull you through its much-too-short length, the doomy psych of the opening track is revisited in “Desert Ceremony,” another reference to our unwashed pals at the Ranch. Its superficial diabolicism masks a gentle beauty which comes to the forefront as it winds down to a lovely end. We’re taken back into a realm of insanely catchy riffs with “Evil Love,” which shouts its rawk’n’roll power from the rooftops through an incessant drive and speed-fueled purpose.
The second half of the album—which (like the second half of Black Flag’s My War) is composed of longer tracks that stretch out to deliver their strengths—starts with “Death Valley Blues,” which ebbs and flows along like listening to Revolver through a haze of hash and waiting for the acid to kick in, while the paranoia keeps manifesting in the chorus. The hallucinatory power really starts to take effect on “Follow the Leader” with its droning electric guitar-and-bass churn over gently played Eastern-influenced acoustic guitar. “Valley of the Dolls” continues to amp up the evil as a minor-key mellotron is added to the mix while the track lurches along like Vol. 4 Sabbath on a mission to kill. Meanwhile a George Harrison-esque lead break ties us back once again to our “Helter Skelter” fans out at the Ranch. “Devil’s Work” crashes things down in spectacular fashion, marching into apocalypse with a singularly simple yet powerful riff as Our Dear Uncle intones “I’m the devil, and I’m here to do the devil’s work.” The album concludes with the sound of the end of time echoing in the distance.
As with Blood Lust, the sound of this album is live and visceral while also retaining a hazy, ethereal quality as if the master tapes were giving off a contact high. The band (now a foursome? Were female Deadbeats Red and Kat a ruse, decoys to throw authorities off the trail? Or were they among those lost in the slaughter atop Mt. Abraxas?) plays like a singular organism, while the keening vocals of Uncle Acid unite with backing vox from his Deadbeats to again etch their mark in your mind.
If you listen closely, you can hear your Uncle calling. Calling from the desert. He’s got the answer. He is the answer. That knife you took in your hands last time around? Bring it with you. You’ll need it for what he has planned.
Out May 14 2013 from Rise Above/Metal Blade Records.