Posts Tagged ‘Tomahawk’

Tomahawk today release their first full-length album in eight years, Tonic Immobility (Ipecac Recordings), and with it they have shared a new video ‘Predators and Scavengers’ directed, animated and produced by Diego Cumplido.

Watch the video here:

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Ipecac Recordings – 26th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been seven years since the last Tomahawk album, but the noise-rock supergroup are marking their twentieth anniversary in style with the crash-landing of album number five in the form of Tonic Immobility.

For those who needs reminding, the lineup – guitarist Duane Denison [the Jesus Lizard, Unsemble, etc.], vocalist Mike Patton [Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, etc.], drummer John Stanier [Helmet, Battles, etc.], and bassist Trevor “field mouse” Dunn [Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, etc.] really is a who’s who of that US 90s / 00s melting pot of alternative that was truly alternative.

Of course, Mike Patton is the biggest name, because, well, Faith No More reached a level of being truly massive. But even at their peak, Patton was always dabbling in weird shit, with the far-out oddball whacky rock of Mr Bungle, and myriad other projects that were as non-commercial as you could get.

That commitment to music of interest rather than mass appeal has driven Ipecac since its foundation, and Patton is, for many, a true hero as not only a champion of all things weird and wonderful – and often harsh and noisy – but also as one of the most eclectic and wide-ranging artists in contemporary rock, and alongside JG Thirlwell, perhaps one of the few living artists worthy of the term ‘genius’.

And so, being Tomahawk, it’s a weird and varied album that’s visceral and noisy, but also so heavily dynamic as to leave you dazed. Opener ‘SHHH’ is exemplary: it begins quietly, gently, before erupting into a blast of mayhem… and going quiet again. It’s like if Björk had done ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ while… I dunno, working with Tomahawk. Because while The Jesus Lizard and helmet were integral to defining the underground sound of the 90s, there really is no other act that sounds quite like this, and it’s all about the collaboration and cross-contamination, of course.

There’s an intense, gritty heft to the album as a whole, but there’s variety: ‘Valentine Shine’ is a full-on grunge-riff rager, while ‘Predators and Scavengers’ pursues a more math-rock line of attack. ‘Doomsday Fatigue’ meanwhile, is a slow, slinky, twisted blues drawl that’s more Jesus Lizard until it goes all smooth soulful pop, and the FNM influence is perhaps more apparent. The thing is, you never know what you’re going to get next:

If ‘Business Casual’ feels a shade dated, it still hits the mark both sonically and in terms of lyrical relevance, showing that there’s always something to be had here. ‘I’ve never looked as cool as you’, Patton croons on the low-slung ‘Tattoo Zero’, another song that’s divided dynamically between verse and chorus.

Tonic Immobility has everything going on, and even the brief rap-rock passages work because they’re all part of a huge hybrid cocktail of whatever: ‘Howlie’ goes post/math rock melodic and marks yet another departure before it goes all-out heavy, and ‘Eureka’ is a droney ambient interlude, and ‘Recoil’ actually goes a shade dub reggae for a while and at times it does feel a shade bewildering, and even a bit ‘wtf’, but you can’t criticise Tomahawk for a lack of focus or identity – because that’s their identity right there. ‘Sidewinder’ is a genuinely touching piano-led tune – until the noodling math-rock and distorted vocal howl kick in, and there are also some absolutely brutal riffs on offer here, and make no mistake, Tonic Immobility packs a punch.

It’s a crazy album for crazy times, and a complex, mathy, loud album for a time where the best escape is down a rabbit hole of musical weirdness. Tonic Immobility is that rabbit hole. Dig it deep.

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Tomahawk, who recently announced their first full-length album in eight years, Tonic Immobility (March 26, Ipecac Recordings), have shared a second track from the twelve-song album, debuting the graphic video for “Dog Eat Dog.”

"It’s a statement about competition, oppression, and unity–served up with a healthy dose of slapstick humour,” said Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard/Unsemble) of the Eric Livingston directed clip. Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle/Fantômas) added: "Dogs patiently wait, obediently, for humans to snuff each other out…so they can take over the world. Dogs rule!!!!”

Watch the video here:

Ipecac Recordings – 4th August 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

According to the band’s biography, ‘Dead Cross emerged out of a series of impractical schemes, fallen-through plans, and last-minute musical experimentation. Shows were scheduled before a single song was written, fans were formed before even one show was played. The chaos of its creation seems apt; after all, the band is comprised entirely of artists who have thrived playing tightly-coiled turmoil—intelligent dissonance disguised as disorder.’ None of this is surprising, given the co-conspirators who make up Dead Cross – namely Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson, Michael Crain, and Mike Patton. On paper, it’s a recipe for sonic mayhem. And that’s precisely what Dead Cross delivers.

It’s fast, furious and frenetic from the first bar. ‘Seizure and Desist’, recently unveiled as a video single, kicks it off in spectacularly explosive style and sets both the tempo and the tone. It’s a snarling, furious assault. It’s brutal and deranged, and yet it gloriously melodic, with a chorus and a hook that’s almost chartworthy.

Dead Cross is intense. Loud. Hard. Fast. Mental. Throw Faith No More, Pantera, Strapping Young Lad and The Wildhearts in a blender and you’re in the vicinity.

On one hand, this is a proper, old-school thrash album. On the other, it’s got Mike Patton all over it. Since forever, Patton has demonstrated a unique style and an even more unique sense of theatricality and melody. Unique, in that he’s able to incorporate these elements into the most incongruous and unexpected musical contexts, and successfully. Certainly, his immense vocal range and versatile delivery is a key factor, but there’s far more to Dead Cross – the band and the album – than once man. It’s all about the disparate parts and how they melt together to create something distinctly different. There’s no one dominant aspect here: this is a true collaboration, and all the more intensely insane because of it.

In the hands of pretty much any other band, thrash or other, the cover of ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ would be both shit and pointless. But Dead Cross fill it with violent menace while retaining the finely-balanced drama of the original – and condense it all into two and a half minutes by pummelling it out at a hundred and fifty miles per hour and driving it along with a dirty, gritty as fuck bassline overlaid with heavily processed vocals. The end result is bloody brilliant.

Dead Cross is relentless and brutal. The shrieking venom of ‘Grave Slave’ is a grinding churn of guitars propelled by nonstop blastbeats. ‘Church of the Motherfuckers’ closes the album off with a throbbing chug, and, while slower, brings Patton’s capacity for flamboyant theatricality to the fore, while diminishing for fevered attack not one iota.

Often, I’m given to criticise so-called supergroup projects for failing to produce anything even as great, let alone greater than the sum of the parts. But it’s the fact that Dead Cross have produced an album that is precisely the sum of the parts which makes it such a belter.

Dead Cross Cover