October 25, 2007

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The Warlocks, Heavy Deavy Skull Lover
Tee Pee Records, Oct. 23
By sticking to a more limited palette of sounds than in previous albums, the Warlocks have at last become distinctive, putting forth a solid, focused set of closely related songs instead of a clumsy round of genre-Twister. In their best record to date, their Spacemen 3 idolatry suffers from no hesitation; Bobby Hecksher has immersed these tunes in a boiling vat of skronk and reverb, tacitly accepting the fact that there will be real haters of the stuff, which also means there’s ample opportunity to cut himself a cult niche apart from all the other poor sods who’d had a turn through the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s revolving door. Volleys of feedback and distortion leave leadoff song “The Valley of Death” a smoking crater where a gloomy Metallica-like arpeggio and unabashed nicking of Thom Yorke once stood, evidencing a lot of SunnO))) listenings during their last endless jaunt aboard the tour bus. “Sky Beneath” is the only generic paean to Spacemen 3 (and thus the least interesting song), but past that is four-chord jam obsession — all of it slow in tempo — that’s actually very listenable, indeed hypnotically tuneful, extrapolative of the hidden track from their 2005 full-length Surgery. A- Eric W. Saeger