Saturday, October 15, 2011

Underground Classic - Acrimony 'Tumuli Shroomaroom'(1997, Peaceville)

In the pantheon of great unsung doom/stoner acts, Acrimony are perhaps one of the best examples of a truly genius outfit that were sadly overlooked at the time, but are enjoying somewhat of a cult revival of late thanks to the magic of  the internet, and various stoner/doom/psyche related Facebook fan groups and a plethora of excellent stoner rock blogs(see the sidebar for starters).

Hailing from Swansea , Wales,also the hometown of BAN faves Taint , and comprising members of other seminal UK doom/stoner acts like Iron Monkey and Dukes Of Nothing, Acrimony's approach was a deceptively odd, eclectic one, a heady brew of what the band called 'shroom doom', a sound comprising of walls of Sabbath inspired riffing with odd detours through Hawkwind -esque space rock territory, and which is enscapulated perfectly in their penultimate full length effort, 'Tumuli Shroomaroom' .

Opening with the  grinding doom  of  'Hymns to the Stone', the album is that rare thing, a 'drug' influenced album that perfectly captures that feeling of lost summers spent getting high and lazing in long grass or, in my case, behind the local mini supermarket.Groovy, warm but also loaded with a menace and intent that adds weight to the fuzzed up riffola on offer.Indeed, just witness the monged  synth sounds that pepper the  gloomy march  that ends 'Hymns' , or the spacey, blissed out beauty of 'The Bud Song' to see that this was a band who clearly enjoyed an hallucinogenic or ten.The band's sound also delved into grungier territory at times, with the instantly infectious 'Million Year Summer' a definite radio hit that should have been, singer Dorian Walters's broken glass and fag ash voice surely a Brit counterpoint to John Garcia's sandblasted missives.

And when the band do choose to go a voyaging, or a picking rather in their case, as in the ten minute slow building monster 'Heavy Feather', or the closing 'stomp of 'Firedance', they do so in a way that is never less than immediately accessible, and the album  'Tumuli Shroomaroom 'mostly recalls, especially in the aforementioned 'Firedance' 's voodoo boogie, is Sabbath's immortal VOL 4, the point where  they really began to push the boat out and explore somewhat more psychedelic waters, and this is the perfect reference point for Acrimony's startling, red eyed explorations in sonic bombast .Sound wise as well , it's a perfect distillation of all that is good about stoner rock , the warmth of analogue equipment and Orange amps , and gain controls  pushed just a little too hard, but most of all the feel of a band genuinely enjoying what they do.

Of course they might be gone, but their legacy remains(yeah yeah we know, STONE 'ENGE  and all that) , in bands like the excellent whiskey soaked rock of SIGIRIYA , and the wonderfully  filthy crust tinged heaviness  of Lifer. Just proof that there are those out there who still prize the power of the riff above all else . . .

For fans of: Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Wizards Of Firetop Mountain, Sleep
Stephen O' Connor

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