Review: Dead Meadow ‘Force Form Free’

Force Form Free is a rather strange title for an album by long-time psych-merchants Dead Meadow. I can’t decide whether it sounds like an action cartoon show for Saturday morning or some esoteric fitness method. Nevertheless, the Washington DC-born/LA-based trio has returned with their eighth full-length on Blues Funeral Recordings Post Wax series after 2018’s superb The Nothing They Need. In contrast to its predecessor, the mostly instrumental Force Form Free opts for a darker and more cryptic note, settling somewhere not quite hopeless yet still awaiting an impending doom on the horizon.

Dead Meadow 'Force Form Free'

If you asked stoner and psychedelia musicians to do their best to approximate the far bleaker sounds of funeral doom, the opening instrumental The Left Hand Path seems to be the end result. This is a sad and somber march across the wasteland, with Jason Simon’s plodding and repetitive guitar part leading the procession along.

Fans of Kruangbin and Can are sure to love the superbly titled The Lure Of The Next Peak, a hypnotic and floating psych number with some particularly reverbed drums. Valmont’s Pad – also instrumental – is a nice ‘60s occult rock piece with some lovely hooks and expectedly spiriting lead guitar from Simon, as well as grounded rhythm work from Steven Kille and Mark Laughlin respectively.

atmospheric and rewarding psych rock…

The first track with vocals is the zone-out ballad To Let The Time Go By, a nice spacey ditty in the tradition of Dead Meadow’s Self-Titled debut, while the title track, Force Form Free, returns to the droning progression established earlier on the record. Finally, the closer Binah is an eight-minute meditative piece punctuated by ethereal keyboard and some wrenching lead guitar.

Overall, Force Form Free lacks some of the musical meat that previous Dead Meadow releases are known for. There is a dearth of the blues rock stylings which is where I think the band’s best strengths lie, and overall, the record has the feel of an EP more than LP. That being said, it makes for a nicely atmospheric and rewarding psych rock release and is likely to please long-time fans.

Label: Blues Funeral Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Instagram

Scribed by: Rob Walsh