Uncle Acid and The Deabeats // Mind Control
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — This is not the follow up you’re looking for…
Label: Metal Blade/Rise Above Records
Websites: myspace.com/uncleacid | facebook.com/uncleacid
Release Dates: EU: Out now! | NA: 05.14.2013
Occupying the same retro 70s “occult rock” genre as Ghost, Devil, The Devil’s Blood and Occultation, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats brought a lot of firepower to the retro doom knife fight with their 2011 Blood Lust opus. They showcased the same hooky, memorable song writing chops and appreciation of the past that Ghost featured on their debut, but folded it into a heavier overall sound with big, distorted guitars and a weird serial killer/stalker motiff. While I wouldn’t say it bested Opus Eponymous, it was a close second, and way better than the rest of their occult rock ilk. As painfully chronicled on this very website, I was a bit disappointed with the sophomore Ghost outing. Now I can say I’m also let down by the new Uncle Acid album as 2013 continues to be a year of missteps by bands I dig (unless things vastly improve, I shall forevermore refer to 2013 as “The Year the Music Blew Moosecock”). Where Blood Lust bristled with power, energy and satisfyingly simple playing and writing, Mind Control spends about half its time stuck in a weird, trippy drone zone that drags badly and suffocates the much more fun, rocking exploits on the album’s other half. Basically, you get half an album’s worth of crisp, engaging doom-rock, then a collection of songs with major or semi-major issues. Not what I was hoping for at all, but I suppose it’s better than an entire album of dull, uneventful lava lamp rock (which we already got this year). Oh, and the cover reminds me of a Mount Airy Lodge commercial from 1982 and therefore sucks mightily.
This tale of two halves neatly breaks down by first half/second half, with only closer “Devil’s Work” being out-of-place. The first half of Mind Control is the same Uncle Acid I know, love and want at every family gathering. He’s the loveably quirky, drunk uncle who worships Black Sabbath and knows how to tune a guitar to attain maximum fuzzality. Opener “Mt. Abraxas” is full of those big, thick riffs that could have been on the Kyuss masterwork Welcome to Sky Valley and these are expertly paired with leads seemingly lifted from any of the first five Sabbath platters (check out the one that erupts at 3:30, it’s plenty awesome). Over the titanic riffage, Uncle’s (K.R. Starrs) high-pitched, nasally whine soars like an eagle on LSD. It works and it works damn well.
You also get treated to simple, rockin tunes like “Mind Crawler” and “Evil Love” and festive, rollicking, Hammond Organ drenched ditties like “Poison Apple,” all of which hit the same sweet spot Blood Lust drilled so effectively. Best in show may well be the ginormous, powerhouse riffing throughout “Desert Ceremony” which purloins the Kyuss songbook for style and mood. Something about the building riff scales really resonates with me and it conjures irresistible images of sandy wastelands and distant, majestic mountains (no, not Mount Airy, you assclowns).
After all this high quality coolness, things start to go awry, though slowly and deceptively at first. “Death Valley Blues” begins life as an interesting, Beatles-esque number which lurches from 60s pop to doom and the overall effect works well. However, the song overstays its welcome and drags badly on the back-end. Making matters worse, the next song, “Follow the Leader” sounds like a six-minute continuation of the aforementioned badly dragging back-end. This makes for a mind-glazing and momentum killing one-two punch, which is then fatally exacerbated by the album’s worst (and naturally, longest) track, “Valley of the Dolls.” This one painfully limps along like any dull stoner rock might, without much in the way of interest or direction. The riffs themselves aren’t necessarily bad, but the song goes nowhere and Starr’s vocals really grate on my nerves (especially his ad nauseum repeating of the song title which passes as the chorus). While closer “Devil’s Work” ends things on a high note, the triumvirate of badness really hamstrings the album and negates any chance it had at mind control over yours truly.
Another issue is the production here. While Blood Lust had a delightfully vintage sound utterly dominated by huge, messed up guitar blasts, the mix here feels less dynamic and gives the guitars less power, which is a terrible idea for a band like this. They still dominate the proceedings, but lack some of the fearsome authority they once had.
If you loved the early stuff from these chaps, I strongly suggest cherry-picking the first half and skipping the rest. If you can’t get enough whiny drone, then you may love the back-half. I guess there’s something here for everybody except those that wanted a completely solid album. C’mon 2013, get your shit together!