by Craig Regala
Identities are based upon extremes/differences. This goes back to the bio-prerogative of self-defense. It’s natural, so don’t get huffy. Ergo, upon hearing Tomahawk‘s line up – Denison (The Jesus Lizard), Patton (Fantômas, Mr. Bungle), Rutmanis (Melvins, Cows), Stanier (Mark of Cain, Helmet) – I thought, “Oh boy, another of Ipecac’s furry-freaked art projects.” Well, that’s what I get for thinking, eh? Tomahawk is a beautifully-sculpted hard rock record rooted in the expansive non-arena ’70s/early-’80s rock, encompassing hard “new wave” era gunch, i.e., liquid grooves that flow in rockist terms. Kinda like a phased mating of the Gothic Cure of ’81, the Birthday Party in muttering rather than shrieking mode, King Crimson Mach III, (Belew-era), and the smooth, modern, Queens Of The Stone Age lope that’s been fucking with syncopated rhythm as long as Mr. Jim “Foetus” Thirlwell’s drug-addled dong has, albeit to differing sonic conclusions via choice of tools. It doesn’t refer to any of that stuff overtly, and the pro level chops/singing takes this into “metal” territory about as much as Faith No More’s Album of the Year (the one with “Last Cup of Sorrow”). Tomahawk’s girdle is as much art rock/rhythm & blues as Album, both coolly grooving like a restrained, liquid-Primus with a singer and sex appeal. Working noirish mid-tempos, creepily controlled vocals/playing and a balanced mix (everyone matters here), the tunes are well-supported with no showing off from a buncha guys that can jerk off with the best of’m, if necessary. When they notch it up it veers into latter-day Jesus Lizard territory with bridges carved from their individual lineage and synth whooshes/washes to keep those of you huffing nitrous occupied. I hope they tour for this.