27 Feb 2013

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats "Poison Apple" 7" Review

Reviewed By Jim Peters

Smoke swirls from the basement doorway – part hashish haze part theatrical smoke machine – pulsing, flashing lights dance through the (om)fug silhouetting animalistic shapes thrown in wild abandon by those lucky enough to have survived the party this long and made it down this far. Casualties shrink the room slumping against the walls but at the far end of the room comes a red glow from the eyes of a group of justified sinners and deadbeats leading this elegantly wasted scene with their diabolic, primal glam riffs……..you had better kick out the jams and listen to your good old Uncle Acid – Mutherfuckers!
 `Poison Apple’ (on Rise Above Records) from Cambridge’s finest purveyors of psychedelic doom metal – Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – starts with a sleazy riff Black Rebel Motorcycle Club would sell their leathers trousers for – but then their 3rd album `Howl’ was named after the Allen Ginsberg poem and he himself is a Dead Beat. It’s a riff that is deviantly subversive in its glam feel in the same way that the New York Dolls could be at their best. But don’t be fooled ….there is something sinister in the buried vocals that have you wondering if you have been tricked into tapping along to something dangerous. `I’m your poison apple baby…..’- Hell yeah!
Formed in 2009 as an outlet for the frustrated imagination of the self-confessed unemployable Uncle Acid (guitars, organ, vocals) and recruiting deadbeats Kat and Red (bass and drums) plus on occasion the equally brilliantly named Harsh Ray, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have a sound that draws on the spirit of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple as well as a heavy dose of 70’s psych and garage fuzz.  Poison Apple follows on the back of (oc)cult albums `Vol.1’ and the video nasty concept album `Blood Lust’. Their look and style draws on a theatrical Amicus/Hammer style occult world like those of Satan’s Slave, Carnival of Souls and Messiah of Evil.
To be honest I wasn’t aware of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats’ Doom Metal/Psychedelic horror credentials when I first heard `Poison Apple’ (certainly not genres the Island comp. `El Pea’ aping cover suggests). From my first exposure to their music I was expecting a much more sleazy glam sort of band than reading their biography suggest. I was hearing Fred `Sonic’ Smith, Johnny Thunders, Bolan and Alice Cooper but with headphones on the arrangement and production does indeed hint at a far more seismic Deep Purple, Weedeater, Electric Wizard style of musical menace and a more groove aware version of Church of misery or Mars Red Sky.
The chugging riff that forms the intro stays constant throughout the track locking you into a grove that fly’s in the face of all you would expect from Doom Metal. This tune rocks but it will have all the hipsters, freaks and acidheads shaking their hips before the vocals have even begun. The murky, circular groove is joined by deeply buried bass and organ parts that add a hint of Iron Butterfly/Nuggets psych. The bass seems to fall in and keep step with the steady march of the guitar but is in fact the first hint at this tunes real cleverness. The bass adds barely noticeable runs of extra notes to the riff that, along with the hazy, smoke shrouded vocals, create a feeling that something is hiding in the mix – something that you are constantly unsure if you have heard of just sensed.
The 2-part vocal harmonies suggest a fleeting nod towards the poppier end of the heavy psych spectrum (The Zombies, The Troggs and good `weird’ Beatles) with the lyrics obscuring themselves and teasing us with mere hints. They could possibly be a messianic coke-fuelled call to arms or they could possibly be something else altogether. Uncle Acid variously announces himself as `the one’ and `the poison apple in the tree’ as well as claiming to be `the sire calling through your brain’. `I’m your own reflection you wish you had’ he tells us – and his is quite probably correct – before adding the sinister refrain `I will always watch you, I will always watch you’ – cue Neil Young style fuzz guitar solo. This, like the rest of the track, exudes confidence and swagger but is never overdone and never stays too long. The production and mix of the track is a further triumph and a trademark of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats’ sound. Everything bleeds into everything else to such an extent that it is impossible to untangle the separate parts which creates a feeling that the entire track envelops you and warms you up with the power of valve amp hum alone….
…….ignore the demonic paranoia and let Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats absorb you into their narcotic miasma as you drift through the crowd of ecstatic groovers and shakers. Let the growing red eyes guide you and remember it is just the reflection you wish you had.