Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

Wasteland

Written by: AP on 09/06/2019 17:45:17

With the resurgence of vinyl culture over the last decade, psychedelic rock, too, has witnessed something of a renaissance, leading countless aspiring musicians to look to the ‘60s and ‘70s heyday of rock music for their inspiration. Today, the genre is as crowded as it is popular, and like in any saturated market, it can be difficult to spot the artists who still hold the genre to its original high standard. This was never the case with Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, however, as the Cambridge-based outfit needed only a single album — their 2010 début “Volume 1” — to make their mark on the scene and become darlings of it. Since then, the band’s consistently excellent musical output and spellbinding live performances that bind together the glum mysteriousness of doom and the lush and kaleidoscopic melodies of psychedelic rock, have earmarked Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats as one of the brightest prospects in the genre, and eight years later, the four-piece still continues to forge success with another convincing album in “Wasteland”.

As a disclaimer, it might be prudent to note that one will not to discover much innovation on the band’s concept when listening to “Wasteland”. If you ask me, the band nailed it with their 2013 album “Mind Control”, and while the following “Night Creeper” also had me raving, it was more of an elaboration on said concept than another wildly original piece of music. “Wasteland” is a similar undertaking in that it is as tight and infectious as they come, but also raises a few questions as to where Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats really are headed. Swirling in a holding pattern still works for the band because they are such able songwriters and skilled musicians, but one does fear that they might run out of steam pretty soon from all their treading water. But why speak of future ailments when one has a perfectly healthy specimen in one’s hands? As already hinted at, presently the band is in strong form on this latest offering, and after digging into it, there is a now good handful of new entries in my Criterion Collection of Uncle Acid’-tracks, beginning with the striking opener “I See through You”.

After stoking tension with a synth pulse, lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin R. Starrs lays down a familiar ‘Sabbath-school riff inviting all aboard, yet the real power of the track lies with its lyrical content, which simultaneously presents a bleak vision of the future and cuts into the trolling and misinformation culture that is so widespread on the Internet today. “I can’t breathe — but I can see through you!”, laments Starrs in his customarily androgynous voice amid dramatic chants of uh-uh-uuh” by his three compatriots, to produce one of the most haunting moments this record has to offer and to prove that just because the subject matter is heavy, it need not stand in the way of writing a catchy tune. This is a theme that runs through the entire album alongside its post-apocalyptic concept, and it enables you to enjoy “Wasteland” in multiple ways. Whether you just want to rock out and sing along to some infectious heavy rock chops as laid down by the likes of “Blood Runner” and “Stranger Tonight”, lose yourself in the rainbow soundscapes of “Bedouin” and “Exodus” in which myriad melodies and slick guitar solos seem endlessly to intertwine, or simply think on the idea of people having their memories erased and then being forcefed (dis)information via “glowing propaganda screens” and where that might lead, “Wasteland” provides an avenue for you to explore. And as such, it would be surprising to me if someone found it to be a boring or repetitive listen.

In fact, it feels like Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats have struck the perfect balance in terms of satisfying those looking for instant gratification from strong singles and the guitar nerds and connoisseurs among us. Starrs (whose pseudonym is Uncle Acid) may be the driving force behind this project, but it is nonetheless impressive to witness how skilfully his three colleagues (rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Vaughn Stokes, bassist Justin Smith and drummer Jon Rice) apply their talent in order to bring his ideas to life. Indeed, the level of musicianship on display in “Wasteland” is consistently breathtaking, helping to shine a light on even some of the less impactful tracks like “No Return” and the aforementioned “Blood Runner” — and this despite the fact that both Smith and Rice are pretty recent additions to the band’s line-up. So while “Wasteland” does not exactly bring anything new to the table, it packs more than enough character to keep Uncle Acid’s growing fanbase satisfied for now. One only hopes that the eventual follow-up might start pushing the envelope once again.

8

Download: I See Through You, Shockwave City, Stranger Tonight, Bedouin, Exodus
For the fans of: Black Sabbath, Demon Head, Electric Wizard, Pentagram
Listen: Facebook

12.10.2018
Rise Above Records

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