By Jerry Kranitz
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
England's Bad Acid is both a magazine and a record label that features heavy spacerock, stoner rock, and doom metal. The latest from space greats Farflung is on the label and Bad Acid cheifman Dave Gedge predicts yet another Farflung release before the Millennium, as well as a new disc from SubArachnoid Space and possibly Chrome. The magazine has two issues out to date and the third was due in March, though it hasn't appeared as of mid-April. But Dave is committed and asked me to pass on that "it's fucking hectic, my baby girl is screaming right now and I have three other kids playing for my attention... without the patience of my girlfriend Sarah (who does the psych reviews in Bad Acid) this would not be possible!!!!!" Bad Acid has four releases to date, three of which are reviewed below. The fourth is by Burning Witch who in February released "Crippled Lucifer". I heard one track from it and it's scary stuff. Doomheads will love it. For more information contact Bad Acid and Dave Gedge at PO Box 3123; Poole; BH17 9YU; UK. Read on...
Farflung - "The Belief Module"
(Bad Acid 1998, TRIP3)
Like their previous releases, the latest from Farflung is pure, unfiltered, no additives spacerock. Tommy Grenas had told me at Strange Daze '98 that we could expect tracks along the lines of "Landing On Cydonia" and indeed this is pretty accurate. But in a departure the band also delves into 60's acid and jam rock, though embellished by the Farflung wall of sonic rockin' mayhem.
The disc leads off with one such tune, "The Day Of St. Anthony's Fire". The song builds up over several minutes with the trademark Farflung guitar sound and Grenas' heavily efx'd vocals, though it has a more Middle Eastern psychedelic feel and more floating synth passages during the quieter moments. Of course, everything eventually explodes in a rush of total space intensity. Farflung excels at combining layers of simple guitar and synth lines to create a wall of blistering spacerock. The 16 minute "The Dead Sea" is similar, drifting along for a while on a cloud of slowly tripping guitars, chirping birds, and the sound of ocean waves. The music stops after a while and all we hear are the birds, waves, and a boat creaking in the water. This goes on for a bit until the guitars begin to pound again and high pitched vocals sing a "doot-doot-dootin-doot..." chorus that develops into an electro-ambient journey. Actually I think this tune goes on way too long, but it's nothing compared to the last half hour or so of Raven That Ate The Moon!
"Fingers Of The Sky Catcher" dives into acid jam territory with a bit of a bluesy feel, though still chock full of spacey synths. In fact, parts sound like Cream as a spacerock band. But as with all things Farflung the tune culminates in a final blast of intensity, in this case the final 30 seconds being a punked out shot of adrenalin. The title track, "The Belief Module" is somewhat similar sounding like a 60's acid pop tune embellished by Farflung's heavy rockin' space sound. More along the pure acid rock side is "Gleam". Instead of the usual slow buildup ending in a blistering finale this tune begins as a guitar wrenching bit of pure acid rock that ends on a calm note with soothing female vocals. And "World Within A World" is a short rocker with harmonies that sort of reminded me of the Monkees (no shit!).
It took me a couple of listens to appreciate this disc but I can now highly recommend it to Farflung fans. The sound we've come to know is intact, but the band is exploring some new and interesting directions. Also, this release is barely off the press and the folks at Bad Acid tell me that another Farflung release is expected later this year.
Electric Wizard - "Surpercoven"
(Bad Acid 1998, TRIP2 CD-EP)
FUCK OFF WEAK DOOM, WE KANE HARDER!! That's what the band claims in the CD liner notes and... well, I think they're right. This is totally spaced out psychedelic stoned rock doom metal that won't expand your mind so much as it will blow it into millions of little pieces dripping down the wall. The British trio includes Jus Osborn on guitar and vox, Tim Bagshaw on bass, and Mark Greening on drums. Though this is a CDEP it still clocks in at 31 minutes so the two tracks are long and have plenty of room to stretch out. Electric Wizard have two previous full length CD's.
The song "Supercoven" is like a classic sludging Black Sabbath trip with stoned out crunching doom guitar that also wails out acid drenched psych licks. The vocals are screaming and frightening though the music is at the forefront. And these guys explore a lysergic satanic universe that will reward those who dare to venture with truly mind blowing metallic acid rock. The real gem here is the 18 minute "Burnout" which cops a standard Sabbath lick, but drags the listener kicking, screaming, and head-banging through a frightening acidic psychedelic Hell. Imagine the heaviest Hawkwind music mixed with Black Sabbath and you've got something like "Burnout". These guys can really jam and Osborn plays truly gut-wrenching acid guitar that in itself could turn a lot of more standard psych fans into metal fanatics. Despite the length of the songs the Wizard's jams never get boring. The rhythms may remain constant but Osborn's guitar takes lots of cool twists and turns that keep the music interesting.
In summary, Electric Wizard cranks out doom metal tailored made for space/psych fans. If you've been ambivalent but curious about stoner rock then this is the one you'll want to get your feet wet with.
Church Of Misery - "Taste The Pain" (Bad Acid 1998, TRIP4 CDEP)
More Black Sabbath influenced stoner rock, this time from Japan. Though the band does venture into metallic psych territory this is more standard Sabbath than Electric Wizard. The band consists of Nobukazu Chow on vocals, Tomohiro Nishimura on guitar, Tatsu Mikami on bass, and Hideki Shimizu on drums.
This 4-track 26 minute CDEP is an interesting collection of tunes. The first three songs each focus on real serial killers: "Room 213" takes Jeffery Dahmer, "Taste The Pain" features Graham Young, and "Plainfield" gives the podium to Ed Gein. Not to be too locked into their theme the band also covers Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
The first few minutes of "Room 213" is standard Sabbath stuff. However, the last two minutes finds the band launching into a dynamite instrumental jam á la Cream, with guitar, bass, and drums all taking off into their own separate but cohesive directions. "Taste The Pain" is more of the same but also features a cool Hendrix feedback solo. At 8 minutes "Plainfield" is the longest track on the disc (does that mean they liked Ed Gein the best?). The tune plods along for a while though it does feature more Hendrix influenced acid freakouts that are sadly all too short. The Church does an admirable job making "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" their own taking the classic riff and putting it into a stoner rock context. This tune also features my favorite guitar work on the disc as Nishimura finally jams on for a while playing a simple, but delightfully cosmic solo.
Overall, Sabbath fans will love Church Of Misery. Parts of this will appeal to spacerockers though the band should extend their solo jam excursions a bit more. The little tastes they give us are pretty good.