Where do I start? Trippy Wicked, or to give them their full name Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight are a bit of a conundrum. This two piece from St Albans class themselves as “a mix of rock n roll, stoner, blues, sludge, sleaze and doom” and their sound has been described “if Electric Wizard were given a lethal dose of Little Richard”. In essence it sounds as though they’re trying to distil the last 50 years of rock and roll into the course of these 8 tracks and when it works it works well.
Opening track “Hang Em High” kicks things off in promising style with a juggernaut stoner riff that bowls along at a kick ass pace. A strong hook drives this tasty little number along and the vocals, featuring a cool Leslie cabinet/Univibe kind of sound, top things off with as strong a melody as you’re likely to hear this year. The quality stays high for next track “Sea Shanty”, the rolling riff perfectly evokes a life on the ocean waves, riddled with scurvy and drinking your own piss!!! The “yo ho blow the man down” chorus refrain brings Clutch to mind…always a good thing in my book.
Next up is “Evil” and the Electric Wizard comparisons become apparent here as this is a prime slice of down tempo despondent doom topped off with a great reverb drenched melody. The two piece format here does throw up some limitations as, without a nice fat bass sound to underpin the riff, it does lack some of the crushing weight that this style of music demands. The tune grinds to a fantastic halt though with the sound of a guitar and amp breathing their last in some kind of electrical suicide pact…nice.
After a pretty strong opening salvo this disc starts to falter slightly on the next track “Cosmic Rainbow”. This starts off as a bit of a stoner by numbers kind of tune with a pretty lazy vocal that sounds a bit strained and doesn’t really live up to the high standards set by the first three songs. From here it descends into borderline dodgy thrash metal. Is this a case of trying to cover too many bases rather than playing to the band’s strengths?
Things do improve slightly on the next tune “Surfer Song” with it’s “Wipe Out” on mogadon riff and the Wolfmother style verse. Chucking the “Wipe Out” riff into the middle of this tune does smack a little of aiming for novelty value but it sure does sound like the band are having fun. Live this song is sure to go down a storm…in fact I could well imagine this band being a whole lot of rock and roll fun live in general.
Given the musical diversity displayed so far I was expecting the next track “Sleazy” to be some kind of spandex clad, glammed up Motley Crue fest extolling the virtues of cheap wine and cheaper women but no. With a keen eye on throwing a curve ball what we get is a laid back Kyuss like groove with a nice relaxed vocal. What this song lacks in a killer chorus hook, it makes up for with a cool middle eastern influenced mid section. Not the strongest song on offer but still not bad. Nearly there now, two songs left to go and “The Knight” revisits stoner territory as a balls-out little instrumental with an off-kilter headfuck of a mid section that shows that the guys aren’t afraid to step outside the box and screw with preconceptions. It’s a brave move that they fortunately pull off in style here. Closing track “I Wanna Leave” plummets into doom territory once again with a hypnotic drawn out riff and a nice trippy vocal. A lone horn fades up in the mix here to lend an almost Celtic Frost air of atmospheric melancholy and brings the whole thing to a satisfying conclusion.
It seems there are an increasing number of bands experimenting with the two piece band format to varying degrees of effect nowadays…is there a lack of bass players in the world??? There are times when Trippy Wicked don’t quite pull it off. Where bands like Rachmanite adapt the songs to suit the format Trippy Wicked do sometimes sound like a band that are still looking for a bassist. There are some ill advised moments where the riffs aren’t quite strong enough to support the lack of bottom end and it can sound a little empty. It may help if the drums were a little louder throughout the recording as it would benefit from some bowel shaking bass drum crunch to fill out the overall sound (the drumming, I have to say is top class!!!). The guitars a drenched in distortion but to my ears sound a little sharp and scratchy lacking the clarity and depth that would help to fill the space between the guitar and drums. That said, this is a self produced effort on a limited budget and the band’s D.I.Y ethics should be applauded. At 8 songs this release is certainly value for money but possibly would have benefited from losing a couple of the weaker tunes to keep the overall quality a little higher.
A brave and interesting release, certainly one to check out on Myspace first as it won’t be to everyone’s taste but there are some gems here if you’re prepared to open yourselves to the Trip.
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall