Monday, January 21, 2013
Tomahawk : Oddfellows
The fourth album from a super group comprised of the cool kids from the nineties alternative metal scene, Faith no More, Jesus Lizard, Helmet and Mr. Bungle. Earlier in their inception it was easy to dismiss this as another one of Mike Patton's abundant solo projects. The only distinction to separate them from Fantomas , his other super group was Tomahawk came across more like a hipster metal version of Damn Yankees.
"Oddfellows" finds the band has developed into more of a real band, not to say their first two albums aren't good. The first one sounds like Patton fronting the Jesus Lizard and the second one had a heavy Deep Purple vibe to it but either gained an abundance of listens to me though I enjoyed them when I popped them in , this marks their first album that demands heavy rotation.
These songs could have easily been on a follow up to "Album of the year" and sound much more like what you expect from Patton, sometimes to a fault when it sounds like he he's checking off the cast of characters in the vocal range. The song writing is concise and saves the day from this just being about quirky vocals. Age has done Patton's voice favors as it has more grit to it, from wear and tear of a career screaming.
The title track that opens this one has a sinewy riff that weaves its way around the drums. The verse's are sung in Patton's more baritone range and the chorus escalate into Faith no more territory. The ominous chugs are somewhat Jesus Lizard like, but tighter accents despite the angular tone. "Stone Letter" reminds me of "Digging the grave" in it's more straight forward approach, but is not the only ghost of "King for a day fool for a lifetime" that haunts the album.
"I.o.u" has a trip hop vibe in the electronic percussion which starts of the album and while we are at Faith No More comparisons this one would be "Album of the year" at under three minutes it's enought of a taste to avoid being plodding . "White hats/ Blackhats" is more bass driven and a return to the Jesus Lizard feel of the first album. One thing I noticed in the past Patton has said people look for meaning in his lyrics when most of the time he just likes the sound of the words, however it's clear there are themes being constructed here. I like the dissonant ring of the guitar here and Denison explores a lot of tones outside of the sphere I normally associate with his playing style.
"A thousand eyes" is suitably dark and creepy enough to make me happy. There's nothing complex going on musically just every thing is smartly placed and the space each instrument occupies is very tasteful. "Rise up dirty waters" sounds like a Mr. Bungle b-side from the " California days" it's a little silly to me and while it's trademark herky jerky Patton, it doesn't get with the rest of the album.
"the quiet few" gets back to the angular groove and the low throaty chant style. The chorus is another wink at "King for a day...", I do like the tight muted chugs that bridge certain sections, I guess this one could also fall more on the Jesus Lizard side of the band. So in some ways the album acknowledges in equal portions their collective pasts.
"I can almost see them" has a dark western feel despite the Tool like drive of the bass. Patton sings in more of Faith No more like cadence, if you are thinking of some of their more cinematic moments. I think my favorite song is " South Paw" , it's tightly coiled and hard driven even on the more subdued sections of the verses. I like how they take their time getting to the punch of the chorus , it's great song writing all the way around. The melody on the " you rubbed me so wrong/ please keep your close on" is perfect and this is one of Patton's best all around vocal performances.
Patton's vocals rescue the song " Choke neck" whose form and function would have been in question with a lesser singer. "Waritorium" is a tightly chugged winding web of passive aggression, like funkier Jesus Lizard. "Baby let's play" is a David Lynch like stroll, but is so languid it never really takes any form or finds its direction. The album with "Typhoon" which has a palm muted swing amd allows the drummer to open up on the unresolved builds, the melody never finds a hook to catch me in though I can appreciate more where they are trying to go than on the previous song, but it feels the album ends with more of a thud.
Overall this one is really solid and Patton is in fine form , though Trevor Dunn kind of dials it in if you consider his playing in Bungle and the more I think about the talent in the band that's backing Patton, then Denison is the only one who broadens the bag of tricks he brings to the table, the ong writing has with the few exceptions stepped up so I think this one deserves a 9 because the songs that are more noticeably filler are still better than most of the stuff pumped out these days and the dark creepy tone works for me.