Ten years after the great III, Acid King returns with another platter of stoner doom wizardry. Does it live up to their previous records?
There are a plethora of adjectives used to describe music. When it comes to metal, specifically, some of them are incredibly recurrent – heavy, dark, aggressive, visceral. The latter refers to the way certain sounds are felt beyond the movement of stereocilia in your inner ear. It refers to how that one song or that one riff hits you right in the spine; how it awakens something with the power to make you move, headbang, stomp your feet, or even dance. Such is not the case here. I have a feeling the new Acid King album The Middle Of Nowhere, The Center Of Everywhere is not meant to be experienced by the body. This record was written for your mind.
Acid King has always been able to differentiate themselves from their brethren – they were never as vitriolic as Electric Wizard or as rock-oriented as Orange Goblin and Kyuss, for example. Instead, they rely heavily on psychedelia and droning to create a hazy, drugged-out atmosphere. This time the band really upped the ante, managing to craft the most unique release in their catalog.
I don’t mean to get all abstract on you (I might be under the influence of this album), but if you think of riffs as patterns or geometrical figures, they would most likely represent polygons. Yes, sometimes they assume convoluted, spiky shapes, but they eventually meet their starting point. This LP breaks that mold. Every riff recorded here feels like a wave in the sense that, in spite of the occasional loop, it just keeps trudging forward, bringing you closer and closer to the place that gave the album its name.
Make no mistake, though. This album is massively heavy, just not in a pummeling way. On the contrary; it’s actually quite soothing. One of the key factors in achieving this effect is definitely the timbre of the guitar and bass. Fat, chunky, and expansive, every note and chord slowly wraps around you with warmth. You have no idea where you are headed, but you feel safe anyway. Piercing through the low frequencies of the rhythm section, the beautiful guitar leads come oozing with fumes that evoke vivid imagery each time they appear. Even though the leads are employed in a way not entirely different from post-rock, the tone “fuzzes” more than it shimmers.
The highlight of the album is Lori S.’s singing. Compared to their previous efforts, the vocals are not only louder in the mix, but are also performed with much more confidence. Lori’s voice is haunting and ethereal, contributing tremendously to the deep trance this album elicits. The lyrics are powerful and memorable, which grants each track individual value. Believe me, the vocals in this record will put you under an unbreakable spell, especially on tracks like “Coming Down From Outer Space” (my personal favorite), “Laser Headlights”, “Red River”, and “Center of Everywhere”. Yes, I am aware I just cited half the album, and no, I do not care. The singing here is that good.
It would be a blatant crime on my behalf if I did not praise Joey Ousborne’s stellar work behind the kit. He delivers plenty of fills and feels, to the point where I can say it’s worth listening to the whole album focused on the drumming at least once. This might seem like an unusual opinion given that stoner and doom metal are very riff-based subgenres, but the drummer can make or break a doom record. Luckily, Osbourne proves that he is more than capable of dictating the pace of your travels, keeping things thoroughly engaging. Pay close attention to “Silent Pictures” and tell me you don’t agree with me.
The album apex is the aptly titled “Center of Everywhere”. This is the final destination. Delay pedals are brilliantly used, leaving enough room for the bass and drums to shine. The groovy bass line coupled with the guitar and vocal effects turns this song into one of the dopest trips on the LP. Interestingly, the “Outro” tops off the record with the same riff played in the “Intro”, leaving you to wonder if there’s truly nothing to be found at the center of everywhere. Was it all a dream?
The Middle of Nowhere, The Center of Everywhere is an amazing experience, meant to be taken as a whole. It will be released in a digital format independently by Acid King, while the CD and Vinyl formats will be handled by Svart Records on April 20th. Preorder it here. When the day comes, close your blinds, turn off your lights, and delve into the deepest recesses of your brain – preferably while sporting a glorious white mane on top of a space-travelling Bengal tiger.