The Atomic Bitchwax


Written by: BV on 26/04/2015 21:11:45

We’ve all had the same thought in one way or another when a veteran band sets out to release a new album. It’s that strange feeling of thinking; ”will they be able to match up to their previous efforts?” while at the same time hoping they haven’t become incredibly formulaic, to the point of absolute boredom. It’s a strange thought in particular when the band in question, for the purpose of this review The Atomic Bitchwax, barely resembles the beginnings of the band as bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik is the only remaining member from their inception in 1999. Now back with “Gravitron”, the follow-up to 2011’s “The Local Fuzz”, the band seemingly continues down a path lined with fuzz, riffs and hilarious, albeit sometimes ridiculous song titles.

Evident from the very beginning on opener “Sexecutioner”, the band is hardly pretentious and the prime concern seems to be the riff - oh, the sweet riff. With the same remarkable pace they’ve come to be well-known for within the realm of stoner rock, “Sexecutioner” pummels forward in a barrage of sleazy up-tempo riffs and bass-grooves galore. The track itself functions as the initial thrust that sends the album as a whole into overdrive – adding only small, precious breathers along the way when they are absolutely necessary. “No Way Man” follows “Sexecutioner” in much of the same fashion as the predecessor, with an even clearer emphasis on groove and riffs, as Finn Ryan’s incendiary guitar solos fuel the fast-paced, freight-train reminiscent barrage that signifies the song at its peak. More than a mere display of exquisite fuzz guitar, “No Way Man” also showcases Chris Kosnik’s remarkably recognizable vocals as a mainstay of the “Bitchwax” sound lovers of stoner rock have long since come to appreciate greatly.

Sadly this barrage of riffs can also be monotonous as evident on tracks like “It’s Alright”, which is frankly repetitive from the first 30 seconds and onwards, or the somewhat grandiose, yet far too playful and inaccessible “Coming In Hot” which does a lot to showcase the individual skills of drummer Bob Pantella, guitarist Finn Ryan and bassist Chris Kosnik but does little to tie those gloriously skilled elements together to something memorable. Others will surely disagree with me here, but it would seem that The Atomic Bitchwax are at their absolute peak on recordings when they are downplaying their unquestionable skills, and focusing on the song as a thought through construct – rather than letting everything rip like it was the sweetest rehearsal room jam ever performed. Throughout “Ice Age ‘Hey Baby’”, one of the album’s definitive highlights, we are treated to the best of both worlds when it comes to The Atomic Bitchwax – the tightly constructed songwriting that demonstrate them at their recording peak, and the loose, energetic and jam-laden atmosphere which defines them as a live band – all packed into one superb package underlined by a truly mind-bending and gorgeous sounding lead-guitar. It’s hard not to be on board with “Gravitron” and although I remain convinced that they have already recorded much better albums and probably still have it in them to continue recording albums on par with it, “Gravitron” is still a down-right solid album containing songs I’d love to hear performed in the live setting sometime soon.


Download: Sexecutioner, No Way Man, Ice Age "Hey Baby"
For The Fans Of: Black Rainbows, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet

Release date 21.04.2015
Tee Pee Records

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