Acid King – Beyond Vision Review

Nothing moves quickly in the world of San Francisco cult stoner-doom stalwarts Acid King. From expansive, dreamy psych-smattered jam sessions to low and lazy stoner-doom riffs, and groovy plods, through to their sporadic recording output, Acid King do shit at their own relaxed pace. And in the realms of kaleidoscopic, thick, heavyset stoner-doom, Acid King do it well and never disappoint. While I am particularly partial to previous gems Busse Woods and III, the band boasts a consistent track record, including the solid return of 2015’s Middle of Nowhere, Centre of Everywhere. Any hope this recharged return would yield a newfound period of creativity and increased output gradually slipped away through the passage of time. Aside from a Live at Roadburn release, Acid King remained dormant on the recording front for the next eight years, finally emerging from the haze on their long-awaited fifth LP, Beyond Vision.

Beyond Vision feels like the warm company of an old friend, featuring the familiar, tried and true attributes that have long been Acid King’s signature. Generally, lengthy, fuzz-coated tunes unfurl at a languid pace, caressing the mind and soul while featuring the requisite heavier distortion and fat instrumental tones. Line-up shifts have also occurred during the long gestation period. Only frontwoman and guitarist Lori remains from the band’s original incarnation and most recent album. Here the gifted lynchpin, with the psych-drenched guitar skills and dreamy vocals, is joined by drummer Bil Bowman and returning bassist Rafael Martinez. Otherwise, longtime fans will feel in comfortable and familiar territory, slipping into the fuzzy warmth of the Acid King experience. On the flip side, listeners not particularly taken by Acid King’s instrumentally dominant, laidback and jammy stoner-doom will probably find little here to sway their opinion.

Barring the aptly titled instrumental filler track, “Destination Psych,” Beyond Vision favors the long game through the remaining six weighty cuts. Opener “One Light Second Away” initially tests patience as it swirls through a couple of minutes of droning, ambient textures before finally cutting to the chase. Once the song kicks in the familiar Acid King vibes present, lulling the listener into a relaxed, blissful trance. It’s an effective, spacey instrumental piece, heavy in atmosphere and featuring cool soloing. Some fat could have been cut from its drawn-out intro, but otherwise it sets a solid foundation to begin proceedings. “Mind’s Eye” also builds slowly; however, the tempo is upped, and thick, juicy riffs and basslines combine with Lori’s carefully integrated vocals to great effect. The instrumental passages engage and the song packs more trademark heft and killer guitar work. “Beyond Vision” sets off more of those classic Acid King vibes, in all its fuzzed-out, deceptively catchy glory.

Beyond Vision is an album to get lost in, though not always in ways you might prefer. Slow, groovy jams and gradual swells and extended instrumental passages feature prominently. The fuzzed-out riffs, exploratory leads, and Lori’s ethereal vocals floating in and out of the psychedelic fever dream, can flip between pleasantly engaging, compelling, or somewhat meandering in nature. Slow, long-form jam sessions are not unfamiliar for the band; however, mileage does vary on occasion when the focus becomes a little too blurry and cravings kick in for more defined hooks and a little more vocal action from Lori. There is little in the way of filler or weak links, though the eight-and-a-half minute “Electro Magnetic” tests patience and goes nowhere fast across its runtime. Otherwise, Beyond Vision is a solid ride that settles into a comfortable cruise control.

Beyond Vision is a welcome return from a reliable band with a proven track record. Acid King get the job done again, so while devoid of surprises, longtime fans should find plenty of cozy, yet suitably hefty tunes to chomp into, even if it is unlikely to become anyone’s favorite Acid King album. For the uninitiated with a taste for psych-drenched, jammy stoner doom, or acts such as Earth, Weedeater, Windhand and Electric Wizard, Acid King may just hit the spot, and nail the style better than most. The feelgood summery vibes present a nice change of pace from recent listening habits, and Beyond Vision marks a typically solid return for Acid King, though I highly recommend Busse Woods and III for those eager to backtrack through the band’s history.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Blues Funeral Recordings
Websites: AcidKing.bandcamp |
Releases Worldwide: March 24th, 2023

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