Review: The Death Wheelers ‘Chaos And The Art Of Motorcycle Madness’

If an all-instrumental, stoner rock/proto-metal band with biker-rock leanings, that present their music as the soundtrack to some dystopian, early ‘70s bike-sploiation flick soundtrack from Québec City, Quebec, Canada no less, doesn’t quip one’s rock & roll curiosity, I don’t know what will. The Death Wheelers have been floating in my periphery for a while, so I was excited to get a chance to check these guys out, and what better place to start than their latest record on RidingEasy Records (could there possibly be a more appropriate label?) Chaos And The Art Of Motorcycle Madness.

The Death Wheelers 'Chaos And The Art Of Motorcycle Madness' Artwork
The Death Wheelers ‘Chaos And The Art Of Motorcycle Madness’ Artwork

Evidently, The Death Wheelers are the brainchild of bassist/multi-instrumentalist Max ‘The Axe’ Tremblay who started the band as a solo project, doing everything on his own, before eventually taking it to the next level, recruiting like-minded musicians who wanted to indulge in his musical vision as they are poised to drop their third ‘soundtrack’.

First of all, this record is sequenced like a film score, even though these tracks are instrumental, The Death Wheelers are definitely taking the listener on an adrenaline-fueled motorcycle ride straight to hell. Opener, The Scum Always Rises To The Top sets the stage for the fuzz-laden mid-tempo crush-fest that is Morbid Bails. There are some wicked, headbanging riffs that effortlessly flow right into some ZZ Top style ‘70s boogie, and right back again without skipping a beat. Les Mufflers Du Mal, complete with a ‘70s biker soundbite that I’m not even going to pretend I know what it’s from, has the ability to conjure up going fast on a deserted highway late at night with danger around every bend. The different moods they are able to call forth are pretty amazing. This includes some righteous shred from guitarists Sy ‘Wild Rye’ Tremblay and Hugo ‘Red Beard’ Bertacchi that deftly compliment their grimy riffage.

a charging, punky, rip roaring ride through desert hellscapes…

Ride Into The Röt (Everything Lewder Than Everything Else) opens with a nasty bassline, worthy of Lemmy himself, and befitting of the Motörhead-esque song title that is a charging, punky, rip roaring ride through desert hellscapes, before dropping into a swirling ‘70’s breakdown. Triple D (Dead, Drunk And Depraved) as well as having a great song title, the intro is the famous sample from The Wild Angels, Peter Fonda’s, ‘We wanna be free! We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride! We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man and we wanna get loaded’ which I first heard sampled on Mudhoney’s grunge classic In ‘N’ Out Of Grace and also features some tough-as-shit wah-drenched riffery backed capably by a lethal pummeling  rhythm section.

Elsewhere, Lucifer’s Bend takes a slow-burn approach, before dropping into a charging, driving riff that’s peppered with some guitar-shred histrionics, giving the sonic impression of truly going off the rails as the listener is about to eat shit, a result in leaning way too fast. Brain Bucket’s intro features some garage-punk downstroke-action before exploding into a ripping, raging, riff-fest. Tremblay’s Lemmy-esque bass-stylings introduce Open Road X Open Casket before some well-placed echo-y surf guitar forms the main body of the song, summoning up the aural equivalent of heading into the last arc of the albumas the track excels at taking the listener on an epic sonic journey that entails many twists and turns.

Mortician is all over the place with its heavy lurching riffs and garage-esque strumming, coupled with more surf-y musings, wah-soaked leads and an unstoppable groove. The excellently-titled Interquaalude sounds exactly like the title, proffering some tripped-out heavy-psych sonics, while the penultimate Sissy Bar Strut (Nymphony 69) brings the ‘70s funk with a dollop of afro-beat, the results sounding like The Budos Band ill-tempered, un-washed, drugged-up, bastard biker-cousin before the mid-song soundbite that finds the track descend into a proto-doom, fuzz-drenched stomp, highlighted by some Homme-style lead squeals. It all comes to a head with closer Cycling For Satan Part ll which wraps it all up with one last riff stuffed motorcycle ride through hell.

As noted, the sequencing of the tracks is excellent, sonically telling a story that takes the listener on a ‘70s motorcycle ride from hell to space and back. Chaos And The Art Of Motorcycle Madness is a really fun album, and The Death Wheelers do make themselves stand apart from other instrumental acts in this genre due to their ability to tell an aural story, which, while heavy and packed with riffs, is skillfully complemented by flourishes of garage rock, surf and ‘70s funk.

Label: RidingEasy Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams