Winter is coming, and not just in Westeros. As the days grow shorter and the coats grow thicker, a somber feeling draws across us all, blanketing anticipatory holiday cheer. Seasonal Affective Disorder (with its hilarious acronym SAD) strikes its yearly blow, and the call of morose doom metal like Hallatar and Loss is stronger than ever. But frankly, in this melancholic time of the year, it’s nice to have a band around who don’t give a flying iota about the dark short days ahead. The Atomic Bitchwax is that band in body, mind and spirit. With their new album Force Field, sporting a badass naked space chick on the cover, they’re back to kick names, chew ass and take bubblegum. And they’re all out of ass.

For the uninitiated, The Atomic Bitchwax is a side project of Monster Magnet bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantello, along with guitarist Finn Ryan (formerly of Core.) Bitchwax do share the rambling rockers aesthetic of Monster Magnet, but whereas that band regularly has the laidback spirit of an armful of downers, Force Field seems conceived on a healthy cocktail of caffeine, coke and ecstacy. In 35 frantic minutes, Bitchwax blast through 12 tracks of joyful swagger, high-speed joviality and a parade of all your favorite four letter words (“c’mon” chief among them.)

The opening triplet hits like a runaway dive bar on wheels. “Hippie Speedball” sets the tone with a frenzied pace and ditto guitars. The band is at their best when they threaten to careen off the track entirely, the guitars squealing like tires breaking out on a high speed curve, and I’m struck with the feeling this would make a great Dukes of Hazzard soundtrack, provided you watch on fast forward. This sound proves its worth further on the next two tracks, upping the ante even more with the short, sharp “Shocker” that features an almost punk-like aggression. The gear finally drops a notch on “Crazy,” only to be replaced by a ridiculously catchy and groovy rock ‘n roll rhythm. But the unstoppable truck finds its wild side again with “Shell of a Man,” where Kosnik delivers the energetic performance of a man breaking out of desperation and resigning to inadequacy, his voice not a long shot removed from Dave Grohl.

The back-half doesn’t quite live up to the excellent front, though the bar is admittedly high. The quartet of “Houndstooth” through “Super Highway” don’t have the same spark of inspiration, running together in a blurry blaze of screaming guitars, driving drums and Kosnik’s confident throat, though the choppy riff and appropriate swagger on “Humble Brag” are still a high point among them. With “Liv a Little” Force Field ends on a strong and catchy 70s groove, with crackling distorted vocals setting a bouncy melody supported by retro hand claps and the enduring sound of a Hammond organ.

Compared to their previous release, the production job has sanded away some of the grit. The sound is cleaner and clearer, the mix an improvement and the trio is extremely cohesive. The strength of the production here is how little of it you notice; nothing is in your face or noticeably absent, leaving the focus on the music that barrels forth with reckless abandon, pelting the listener with the ricocheting drums and high speed riffs and solos. This method doesn’t stamp a date on the music either, as noticeable grit or simulated analog sound would. Though the noticeable 70s influence on the music might seem to call for that, I personally prefer Force Field with its current clarity.

In an age where every band seems to battle for the longest song average, and brevity is the soul of last century, The Atomic Bitchwax go refreshingly against the stream. Their mission is simple: rock out, rock hard and rock fucking fast. Force Field is a barreling barrel of fun, unpretentious stoner rock complete with ludicrous guitars and strong vocals. I keep coming back thanks to the short song length and infectious joy projected by the band, even with the second half dip in mind. 2017 has been full of great, epic and poetic metal. It’s nice to end it with a party.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Tee Pee Records
Websites: theatomicbitchwax.bandcamp.com | theatomicbitchwax.com | facebook.com/The-Atomic-Bitchwax-86002001659
Releases Worldwide: December 8th, 2017

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  • HeavyMetalHamster

    That name…..
    #metoo

    • Martin Roth

      Guy in the middle seems to be fondling the jewelry as well. And the manspreading is strong with these…

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        TRIGGERED!

    • sir_c

      What about Alabama Thunderpussy; that was one hell of a queef

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        I feel dirty

  • Matthew Christensen

    Love me some TAB, the riffs in this monster are so good. Houndstooth is probably the weakest track.

    • GardensTale

      Can’t fathom why they used it as the single. It’s fun but anything from the front half blows it out of the water.

      • Matthew Christensen

        I could have sworn they put some other songs on soundcloud.

  • Eli Valcik

    Cover art is a solid 4.0/5.0

  • aelena74

    Lemme imitate somebody famous here:
    NO!

    • sir_c

      *NO*

  • The Akerstache

    It’s 11 degrees outside without snow, as much as I want to be listening to Katatonia and Agalloch while watching a blizzard right now, the blizzard part just isn’t happening. Guess these guys will have to cheer me up till that happens.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Naked space chicks are currently running by my window, so maybe now is a good time to give this a spin. Yes, things are looking up.

    • Definitely the best sounding time of the year, f’sho. Draconian, Doom: VS, Trees of Eternity, Agalloch, Fen, Saor, October Tide, Cult of Luna, and more Katatonia than should ever be allowed… All this and more haunt my speakers throughout the great cold distance between November and April, and I love it.

      • Not Patrick From HoE

        Saor and Katatonia, and to an extent Fen, seem like somber springtime albums for the rainy season rather than early winter albums. Agalloch I’ll give you, but they seem more suitable for a wintery fall rather than straight-up winter (but they have albums that are more suited for straight winter.)

        You need some hostility in your wintertime playlists, is what I’m saying. Blizzards are hostile, not sad.

        • Subjectivity, yo. Aggression and hostility don’t hold my attention quite as much once summer passes. Music is definitely my favorite way to channel emotions and Muppet psychosis, and melancholic shit just tends to resonate more deeply with me in general but especially so this time of year.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        I agree Pastor of Muppets……although I’ve had a bit of trouble getting into Fen….

      • The Akerstache

        I wholeheartedly believe no album encapsulates the cold grasp of winter like Brave Murder Day. There are plenty of other amazing winter albums, but BMD is my immediate go-to the minute I see a snowflake.

        I’m super excited for the snow this year, I can’t wait to listen to Impure Wilhelmina’s newest while in the midst of a blizzard.

        • I definitely feel that, I bought sooo many albums with the specific intent of not really immersing myself into until right about meow. And Katatonia… Just Katatonia, nuff said. There’s no wrong time to mope with the dead end kings.

          • The Akerstache

            I love Katatonia so much. I honestly spread their discography around the entire year, The Great Cold Distance is the perfect depressing album for summer, Fall of Hearts for Autumn, Night is the New Day and BMD for winter, and an unhealthy dosage of Last Fair Deal Gone Down for spring. I listen to their discography multiple times a year, but during those seasons those are usually my immediate go-to for Katatonia. I’ll always bump Evidence, First Prayer, or Rusted no matter what mood or season though.

        • Yolo Swaggins

          I live a land without snow…

          • The Akerstache

            That’s sadder than any Katatonia song.

          • Have you at least experienced snow? When everything stays dark and cold forever it can definitely give you a negative bias towards winter, but passing visits to crystalline lands of white can certainly be enjoyable. Plus, the majority of peeps celebrate Christmas in my hood; Christmas lights/decorations ONLY look right in snow, and I’m a sucker for ornament-lit walks at night. I’m wildly ambivalent towards the holiday, but there is something trvly magical about waking along along snowscapes in the dark as blue and white lights reflect against the night and Aleah Stanbridge haunts your earholes.

          • Yolo Swaggins

            Yes, I have. The past 7 years I unfortunately have lived in countries that are not blessed with the grace of snow, but I had the fortune last year to spend a month’s vacation in the frigid northern United States. I live in a desert currently so the winter happens to be the best time to be outside, ironically enough.

          • My heart weeps frozen tears for your arid suffering.

  • sir_c

    It’s a bit of a Monster Magnet meets QOTSA; less spacey and gritty, a little more poppy. But for sure not in a bad way, I quite enjoy this embedded track.

    • Matthew Christensen

      It’s funny you should mention Monster Magnet, because the bassist and drummer are members of MM

  • Iain Gleasure

    It’s a ton of fun and a great album to spin today on Finland’s 100th Birthday. Even if we couldn’t get a review of a Finnish band up.
    Mene Suomi!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Retro hand claps?

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Anyone find a stream of this? It’s not on their Bandcamp page, nor is it on Spotify (in Canada, at least). Might buy, but wouldn’t mind test driving it as usual.

    • mindbleach

      The album isn’t out until tomorrow, so I’d expect to see it then.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Right. I should have checked. Thanks.

    • Tofu muncher

      iTunes has it

  • DubiousLee

    Glad this one’s coming soon. Graviton still hits me like ten tons. And I’ll take Paysage D’hiver when the snow’s deepest.

  • I like the name but the music… not so much.

  • Innit Bartender

    Now what if this makes it Record of the Month? (I know, not going to happen…)

  • Malhorne

    Thanks now I understand why I am always feeling awkward every year mid-november to early-january. Never though I would learn this here though.

    On the other hand this sounds very good, I’ll probably give it a try!

    • GardensTale

      SAD.

      • Malhorne

        At least the acronym is funny compared to what it feels!

  • Caio

    When you live in a city located in the Amazon Forest, with an umid equatorial climate and near the equator, every single day has the same temperature: 32 Celsius or 89.8 Fahrenheit as average high and 26 Celsius or 79 Fahrenheit as average low. At least, in here rains in biblical proportions and would make any Londoner think of London as a dry city.

  • I find the embedded track really dull. I think it feels way longer than it is. I won’t be digging any deeper into this one.

  • h_f_m

    I’ve liked these guys since their debut, good to see them getting some love.