Friday, March 9, 2012

The AX - Fossils of Our Kind on Whoa Boat Records

I've always been a fan of the rock duo, the back photo on this 10" of The AX is just a couple of dudes in the spotlights, with some serious ear protection. The thing about just two bandmates making this pummeling racket is the kind of precision it allows, with just the two of them having to sync up in these deep riffs, stopping on a the edge of that precipice... a lot of times youre amazed that it can feel as complete as it does. It can also be a little scarier though being just the two of them, so there's a nice live tension of being a little naked...but when you get into the blasting volume like this it's probably a pretty nice shield.

A-Sides, "Bent the Wires" has, like the rest of this album, captured some really incredible drums, a huge range of hits mic'd for power, booming room toms...always at least two cymbals smashing continuously, this is mandatory. Lower end rhythms work best with this raw, right in the kick drum capture. This arrangement is working for me the way Death From Above 1979 did (does), a slight synth wave in the guitar tone, repeated melody but unlike DFA, Chris is delivering this understated vocal that reminds me in a lot of ways of the grunge offerings of Mudhoney or Tad, roughneck, no frills vocals. Dirty, southern skids influenced, that logging west and the southern swamps have a lot in common. "The Flood" sounds like playing Helmet's Meantime cassette for days driving around in high school, here's that deep, distorted groove. A '70s big hard rock sound filtered through a real hard work ethic, there isn't a hint of indecision, or god forbid jam time. Engineered to make use of every possible slow headbanging time in this beefy fuzz distortion.

The B-Side's, "In The Shadows" has one of those massive layered speed kick beats, these guys aren't going full metal, it's more like an homage to that Sabbath sound of riffs, louder industrial vocals, the driving straight rhtyhm slows at one point for the guitar to start off solo on a new dirge melody, the huge drums booming in even bigger. I don't ever get an ominous feel from this, just that kind of driving theme soundtrack that's like the Turning Machine records.
This one runs right into "Down the stream", which is just pummeling drums, do they have a double kick? Heavy starts and stops, they keep pulling that trick where this all gets to a certain volume and energy and then they manage another plateau of production. Taking most of it's cues from that unapologetic classic metal sound, but having skipped a generation it's ends up in this tight, imploded star of itself.

There are dark theme's present from the first track, but it's never overindulgent, maybe because of the absence of too many layers... they do have to play this live after all.

Check out the bandcamp page for these guys and get the heavy purple vinyl 10" spinning at 45 in a hand numbered edition of 400 from Whoa Boat! Records.

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