This is the time of year that the media generally gathers up their thoughts on Best Of lists and here to holler ‘hold up contemplate this first’ is the new album from New Jersey power trio The Atomic Bitchwax. A virulent tour-de-force of balls swinging rock ‘n’ roll, Force Field is a chest beating riot in the ears and ignition for the spirit which hits top gear in every aspect from its first breath and never takes its foot off the rock ‘n’ roll pedal until its very last.
Formed in 1993, The Atomic Bitchwax are on to their sixth album with Force Field and have never felt more energetically insatiable and creatively fevered or indeed irresistible. The release sees bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella, both also of Monster Magnet, alongside guitarist Finn Ryan, formerly of Core, unleashing twelve slices of space rock infused stoner soaked proto-metal which assaults the senses like a rapacious virus. It ferociously careers through ears, gets into every pore to leaves a rich lingering taste which only inflames the appetite for more and more. Force Field might be one of the latecomers to the year’s party but immediately is the inescapable focus of attention.
It roars into action with Hippie Speedball, the kinetic thump of Pantella’s swings swiftly joined by the raw fuzz of Ryan’s riffs and the rebel rousing stroll of Kosnik’s bass groove. In no time the whole band is fingering an instinctive appetite for groove slung rock ‘n’ roll, the bassist’s vocals tones riding it all like a tenacious surfer as two and a half minutes are eagerly swallowed up the slab of sonic contagion.
Infestation one leads to number two in the shape of Earth Shaker (Which Doobie U Be). Instantly its muscle has bones shuddering, its sonic toxicity the imagination hooked as the listener is thrust into a whirl of melodic temptation and boisterous catchiness with a Rob Zombie-esque tinge. A robust rock ‘n’ roll waltz bound in stoner/psych dexterity, the mouth-watering escapade is soon outdone by the following Alaskan Thunder F*ck where a maze of melodic strands around rhythmic trespasses are thrust through ears with insatiable creative adrenaline. From vocals to grooves, hooks to rhythmic badgering, the song hits the spot dead centre yet is still in turn eclipsed by the outstanding Shocker. If the previous track was a hungry nagging its successor is an infernal itch with the most salacious row of hooks rich in aural bait. Neck muscles are worked out, limbs stretched from start to finish, the track so infectious and manipulative it is almost vindictive.
Next up, Crazy is an orgy of lecherous grooves and libertine rhythms, an electrified wash of temptation while Fried Dyed And Layin To The Side dances on the senses with the wantonness and devilry of a Wickerman worshipping cult with its instrumental a psyche twisting incitement. Each has body and imagination wrapped up in eager involvement, a feat even more vice like in the hands of Shell of a Man and its own randy antics. A song sure to have even a graveyard bouncing, it is sonic lasciviousness leading to unfettered addiction.
To be honest, that welcome dependence was installed from the first strains of Force Field, only gathering pace and hold track by track and continuing to accelerate as the likes of Houndstooth with its feral rock ‘n’ roll, the blues grooved stoner web of Tits and Bones, and the incessant rumble of Humble Brag lustfully seduce and hungrily incite.
Choosing favourite track within the album is a revolving whirl of indecision such its constant might but the glorious infection loaded charge of Super Highway is always to the fore, the song as virile a contagion as you will ever meet sonically or physically.
It all ends with Liv A Little, a mesh of seventies pop/ psych rock seduced by Hammond keys and entangled in blues lined stone grooves as fuzz soaked vocals flirt. Limbs and energies are defenceless to its merciless lures, the track a tapestry of decades courting flavours.
With every song rampaging pretty much in the time two minutes becomes three the album is a series of rousing bursts and arousing stomps. It draws on styles and inspirations past, weaving them into roars fresher and more adventurous than most heard this year and pretty much more vital than all.
Force Field is out now through Tee Pee Records.
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