02. Stone Letter
04. White Hats/Black Hats
05. A Thousand Eyes
06. Rise Up Dirty Waters
07. The Quiet Few
08. I Can Almost See Them
09. South Paw
10. Choke Neck
12. Baby Let’s Play
Experimental rock can be somewhat of a conundrum at times especially from the perspective of a metal fan, where two seemingly disparate elements fight for the spotlight continuously in a war of push and pull. In our eyes, a great rock band will craft catchy songs that are stripped down and infectious, whereas a great experimental band will push acceptability, usually at expense of accessibility — both these ideals can be combined, time has proven that, yet a lot of the time the mix tends to dilute the intentions of both sides, never quite capturing the true essence of either ideal.
That, however, is where Tomahawk come into play. The on-and-off again supergroup comprising of members of Faith No More, The Jesus Lizard, Helmet and The Melvins certainly have the pedigree and, after twelve years of service as a unit, the years under their belt to create something that adventurous. But after a 5 year hiatus, does Oddfellows really manage to achieve where so many others fall short?
Well, the opening moments of Oddfellows gives you the most crystal clear vision of their approach. The title track unnervingly winds and turns through off kilter drums and a riff that climbs and clambers between the deranged croon of none other than Mike Patton — right off the bat, Oddfellows isn’t afraid show that, despite its colourful and vibrant artwork, at heart it’s surprisingly dark. In a similar vein, brooding jazz weaves its way in in the form of ‘Rise Up Dirty Waters‘ and the slinking back alley crawl of ‘Baby Lets Play‘ inserts you directly into the film noir of your choice. It’s an interesting direction for the band to take and not one that you hear often, but most importantly it’s experimentation that works and still allows breathing space to create easily digestible rock songs.
The lead off single is probably the perfect example of this — ‘Stone Letter‘ is a swaggering, dirty jaunt that is carried by a selection of crass riffs and the huge range of Patton’s voice, from panty-soaking croons to frenzied shouts. It is by far the stand out track with only ‘Black Hats/White Hats‘ or ‘Waratorium‘ coming anywhere near the instant charm and sheer dizzying energy it exudes, in fact it’s so much of instant injection of gratification that at times Oddfellows’ more restrained moments can leave you wishing they would they take that direction more often and it’s those same few tracks that you’ll find yourself returning to time and time again, rather than the album as a whole.
At the heart of it, Oddfellows is an incredibly accomplished piece of work, nothing less than what you would expect from the names on show here. It’s shortcomings arise solely from the fact that the album takes a more subtle and subdued approach at grabbing your attention for the majority of the run time, which many a more traditional metalhead may find themselves at odds with. Given enough time and attention though, there’s a whole host of oddities on display here.
Tomahawk – Oddfellows gets…