Stoner doom metal warriors Acid King end hibernation, offer comeback ‘Middle of Nowhere…’

Acid KingApparently we have stumbled onto the subject matters of spacey rock and mind alteration, through no real plans of our own. I’m now realizing that just about everything we are covering this week falls into that trance-out, thousand-yard-stare territory, and today is no exception at all.

It’s been a decade since we’ve heard from Acid King, that being on 2005’s awesome “III.” Since that time, the stoner rock and metal kingdom has grown massive, with plenty of bands clogging up the atmosphere and making this style into a bonafide sub-category. Funny thing, though, happened while Acid King was away. This style of music got a little out of sorts with so much commotion that we needed one of the pioneers of the sound to return and set things straight. And that they do with power and hazy strength on their great new record “Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere.” Offering up the digital release themselves and joining up with perfectly aligned Svart Records, this band is firing back in heavy, slow-footed motion that drubs you about the head and torso and make you see weird, spiraling shapes on your walls.

Acid King coverHaving formed in 1993 and with four records under their belts, most of Acid King’s lineup has remained together from the start. Out front on guitars and vocals is Lori S., an ideal spiritual leader for this record and the group’s two-decades-plus-long journey, as well as co-original member Joey Osbourne, who handles drums. Bassist Mark Lamb joined up in 2008, and together they sound like a formidable, foggy version of the band that will take you on a journey to the outer reaches of your mind. No chemicals needed, though having some might take you even further into the star-riddled void.

The record kicks off with a properly weird intro cut, that sets the stage with trippy bubbling, riffs that glimmer, and a glowing ambiance, and that leans into “Silent Pictures,” a 9:18 monster that drums up noise and stretches out before the riffs land. S’s vocals float in the air over top of everything, keeping you engaged and wondering where she and the band are headed. The singing then really begins to soar, with the leads burning brightly, the soloing levitating, and the drums rumbling and taking the song to its thunderous conclusion. “Coming Down From Outer Space” could not be more properly named, as the guitars create a thick drone, the tempo gets pushier, and S instructs, “Find every moment you left behind.” From there things get burly, though it’s also draped with a psychedelic curtain and rhythms that pounds you over and over. “Laser Headlight” is mucky and thick, with the tone reminding me a bit of L7 and the melodies buzzing hard. The guitars continue to show muscle with tasty riffs and excellent soloing that takes the song to its finish.

“Red River” goes 8:26, burning and chugging in a calculated pace, with the vocals haunting like a fleet of ghosts. The atmosphere surrounding this song feels humid enough to slap a thick film across your face as you confront their heat and get pushed into their sleep-inducing approach designed to help you see spirits behind your eyelids. “Infinite Skies” has a similar feel to it, as it plods along purposely and injects an extra sense of outer space wonder. S’s singing is as catchy here as it is anywhere else on the record, with things feeling druggy as hell and the guitar playing giving the track a sunburnt, desert-pilgrimage essence. “Center of Everywhere” rolls on for 8:45, and it begins on an ominous note, as the guitars make things feel doom rich and dark. The melodies have a strange effect on the body and mind, with bluesy playing dashing new colors into the scene and the vocals sprinkling stardust. From there, the song gets more menacing and a bit heavier, with echoes reverberating and the guitar work spitting sparks. The closing outro puts a nice, cloudy bow on the record, as the band lets out their last rays of darkness and light, returning these sounds to its original planet.

It’s heavily satisfying having Acid King back in our solar system, and the decade-long wait was more than worth it considering we were handed a record as fulfilling as “Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere.” This veteran band sounds as alive and scorching as ever, and hopefully this record is the starting point on a thunderous second phase for the group. Any band walking the stoner and psyche metal path owes Acid King a debt of gratitude for blazing the path as well as a heap of thanks for coming back and taking us on another mind-toppling journey.

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