Atomic Bitchwax
Spit Blood EP

I was as excited as anyone else when rock bands started sounding like rock bands again, but at this point, “stoner rock” is about as thrilling as pulling your pud. And I am not on very good terms with my pud right now, so that should tell you something.

Very few of these bands transcend the iron-clad affectations of the genre to deliver anything other than coverband, fan-boy embarassment and horseshit. Atomic Bitchwax sometimes delivers, sometimes not. For those that don’t know, the Bitchwax is the platform from which Monster Magnet guitarist (and, therefore, Legitimate Rock Star) Ed Mundell gets to lowball his career by delvering late-night snakedance music for hesher drug orgies. This is probably a variant of the same impulse that keeps Bill (but not Hillary) Clinton coming back to Arkansas: the ever-popular ( and almost always wrong-headed) notion of “keepin’ it real.”

This album is a collection of old and new unreleased stuff, and it just goes to show that keepin’ it real can sometimes make you golden, and it can sometimes make you a jackass. The unfortunate standout track is a cover of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds,” which is literally note-for-note, but with the addition of some whirlybuzz sci-fi noise and the most puke-awful “singing” I’ve heard since I got out of the shower. I’m sure this was a stone blast in the studio, and would probably even make the nut live, but it should never have been recorded, and certainly shouldn’t have been released, and Goddamned sure shouldn’t have been the leadoff song. Track listing is everything, brothers.

After a Campari and soda (and a few spins of the original “Dirty Deeds”) to cleanse the spirit, I forged on, and things began to pick up like a motherfucker. The seven songs alternate between all-instro and vocal numbers, and each have their respective charms. “Get Your Gear” is an understated, suave lady-maker that would totally go over on AOR radio if the Bitchwax were old and in the way. “Black Trans-Am” has the goofiest vocal pattern this side of a pirate chant, and succeeds through volume and drugged pleasantness. The title track is one of those evil-acid noise jams that Monster Magnet used to be capable of in a mad way, but have apparently abandoned for Jesus. The obvious comparison here in terms of aesthetic and sound is Fu Manchu, but the Bitchwax is a way defter, more slippery creature, capable of peeling out Uriah Heep-style flourishes and purely retarded fuzzbomp with equal greasy aplomb. So call this a winner, just skip track one. Keep it real, y’all.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jeff Lamb
April 2nd, 2002

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