For your typical stoner/doom band—especially one that’s had a revolving door of bassists over the years—lasting 22 years is some kind of achievement. But for one to really stay relevant and still carry the thunder after that kind of time? That’s a freak of nature. Quality and longevity together is just a rare breed in the genre. But Acid King show that they’re all that and a bag of chips on their new album, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. It’s the band’s first full-length since their 2005 crusher, III, so you’d have been well within your rights to start wondering whether we’d ever hear from them again. Well, here they are—back again, and with authority.
Acid King’s influence has reached a whole plethora of bands over the years: Windhand, Kylesa, you name it. So it’s no surprise to me that Acid King have mixed some newer sounds in with the trademarks that helped them set trends in the genre many years ago. The album opens with a hazy-sounding intro that leads into a heavier riff repeating over-top a fuzzy bass line. (They do something similar to close out the album, too, only in reverse—a nice thematic touch.)
On “Silent Pictures,” frontwoman Lori S. highlights a wailing guitar section before then silencing any doubts over whether she’s still got her pipes. Her vocal lines are ethereal and dreamy, and compliment this track perfectly. To my ears, she’s never sounded better. From the band’s debut, Zoroaster, onward, she’s done nothing but grow as a performer, tackling everything from their aggressive early fare to this newer material with ease.
Moving through the album, new bassist Mark Lamb proves his worth with his fuzzed out bottom end, and does a fine job interplaying with Lori’s riffs and Joey Osbourne’s intricate skin-bashing. Frankly, I’ve never heard cymbals sound as good as they do throughout this album. Sometimes bands overuse cymbals and it tends to get old quickly, but that is not the case here. The band’s psychedelic blues sound is still its driving force, but doom shares near-equal footing. No place can this be heard clearer than on “Red River”—a track that can’t help but remind me of YOB’s “Marrow,” with its emotionally-charged vocal delivery and slow, methodical riffs and passages. As the second longest track on the album, it has plenty of space to stretch out and breathe; the solo that begins at 3:45 starts in low-tone, then gradually gets higher and higher in a way that really pulls on your heart strings.
My second favorite, “Center of Everywhere,” sees the band return to the psychedelic heaviness that they do best. Heavy cymbal use along with trippy reverb effects on the guitars and bass serve to prove the point. Lori’s vocals have a bit of reverb on them as well, and sound deeper here than anywhere else on the album. This track makes me want to grow my hair long and take off on a motorcycle with no particular destination in mind.
Overall, this album only serves to solidify Acid King as the psychedelic, stoner, bluesy, doom legends they are. What a fantastic return to the masses. Each band member is entirely on top of their game and I’ve never heard the lot of them sound better. All I can hope for at this point is that they don’t wait ’til 2025 to drop their next album.
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