1999’s Busse Woods (Man’s Ruin) proved a pivotal release and milestone for Acid King founding members Lori S. (guitars/vocals) and Joey Osbourne (drums) – a graduated era less bent on praising the stoned Mansonisms of Ricky Kasso (the poster child and muse for cult novel Say You Love Satan) than trailblazing the doom scene with a sound that was deceptively heady and evolved. Cryptic lyrics and themes were still the rule, however, giving equal nods to death cults and the rebellious days of youth-taking and selling drugs, trunks open, blasting tunes – Busse Woods was and (in theory) still is home for the definitive ‘nod scene’, inspiration for the unadulterated and undying ‘don’t give a fuck’ generation. Sixteen years and two albums later, Acid King’s appreciation for low end anarchy hasn’t waned, but as 2005’s III showed a natural progression of the band’s improvisational jamming and ‘motorcycle rock on Quaaludes’ appeal, Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere in its densely layered melodies and shoegaze sensibility is a more dramatic statement in the group’s development and strongly reinforces their claim of never repeating the same album twice.
Book ended by a similarly penned Intro and Outro, the vibe over the record’s eight tracks is smooth from the gate; tight rhythms, circular grooves, and a patient build show that the band’s not trying to make up for ten years ‘lost’ time with grandiose theatrics and pretense, but rather relies on what they know best – bass forward, classically dark and heavy blues. Mark Lamb’s (bass guitars) contribution particularly enriches this time around and cuts like Red River allow him to share some of the weight and spotlight – the song feeds off a few simple chord changes and Lamb fills in the necessary blanks with a host of free form licks – on all accounts this is traditional Acid King, and once you push through the Silent Circle-esque Coming Down From Outer Space, it might seem like you’re digging through the same dirt with an updated shovel. But while this reliable formula is sure to please devoted followers spawned from the earliest Sympathy For The Music Industry (label) era demo sessions, it’s likely the dreamy experimentation and lead harmonizing on standouts Silent Pictures, Center Of Everywhere, and to a lesser degree Infinite Skies that will set this record apart as a turning point in the band’s evolution.
It’s an understated, but powerful gesture that the group chose Silent Pictures as the first proper track on the album – the song takes as many cues from shoegazers like Alcest or even Bethany Curve as it does traditional heavy rock; a medley of beautifully melodic soloing and note bending occupies a full two minutes or so before Lori S. breaks her silence – rather than the fatal head shot we’ve come to expect, the trio opts for a more subtle introduction. It seems the Acid King of 2015 aims to bend minds equally through force and suggestion where a decade of rumination on their past accomplishments, present vision and the doom scene as a whole, has given them a fresh perspective. With so many bands saturating the genre, it nevertheless takes more than a slight change in direction to emerge from the pack – a pack, let’s remind ourselves, that Acid King influenced in the first place. But it’s the group’s maturity and purity of purpose and identity that once again sets the standard.
The great bands of this generation do what they do because it’s part of who they are; when you remain true to your principles as musicians, artists, and leaders of a movement, you can’t help but be forward thinking because your identity defines the path. Until now, muscular riffs and a wall of battery have been the group’s exclusive pathfinders, but the introspective lyricism and psych inspired layers that peak in the final minutes of Center Of Everywhere are representative of the album’s unexpected twists and are a welcomed detour on the road to an acclaimed, but potentially predictable history. Say you love Satan? Perhaps, but know you love Acid King.
Scribed by: Jeremy Moore