Review Summary: An exhilarating and unstoppable hard rock locomotive that somehow never runs out of gas.
The word “impressive” gets thrown around a lot these days often making us forget about the real musical achievement that truly deserves the highest amount of respect. Large musical epics are often accomplish this feat, when a band manages to collect every drop of their musical talent and commit to a piece that displays their songwriting abilities at their peak. In rock music you can name a lot of epics like this: Led Zeppelin has Stairway to Heaven, Rush has 2112 and Pink Floyd has Echoes. Or you could name the famous progressive rock bands like Yes that filled a whole album with just one or two songs You wouldn’t bet that a contemporary stoner/hard rock group form have something like this in their sleeves.
Since their formation in 1992, The Atomic Bitchwax has been a solid staple in their own territory with their bluesy, energetic hard rock that often flirted with the booming, groggy desert fuzz of Monster Magnet and Kyuss while also dosing some 60’s psychdelica in the mix. Their self-titled trilogy of albums as well as 2009’s “TAB4” contained mostly short, focused and fast paced rock tunes and even their occasional long winded tracks didn’t indicated the massive drop of stoner goodness that Chris Kosnik and his partners dropped next.
2011’s “The Local Fuzz” is not what you would normally expect from a band like this. The whole album contains one song. One song that lasts 42 minutes in length. There is no intros, outros, different partitions, just one gigantic, massive jamming that goes through many beats, changes, moods, vibes and riffs. Next to Monster Magnet’s famous Tab from 1991 this has the chance of being the single longest song in the stoner genre. And what makes into a truly amazing accomplishment is that never once you get the feeling of boredom or musical excess. It’s a continuous momentum of musical energy, and fiery instrumentalization that surprises and entertains you at every corner.
Instrumentalization is the key word here, as “The Local Fuzz” omits vocals and remains an instrumental three-piece throughout its entire run. The guitars, the bass and even the drum sound is stripped down, raw yet powerful and hard-hitting. With its epic score and production that doesn’t relies on the over usage of void-like guitar effects, chaotic feedback or all the other tricks stoner bands usually pull out in their sound, TAB’s approach is closer to a band like Karma to Burn than their other contemporaries.
What makes “The Local Fuzz” digestible is that even with its massive length you can clearly sense the changes in rhythm, pace and tone throughout. We start with an upbeat, almost galloping barrage of riffs for five minutes then a set of more groovy mid-paced headbangers with melodic solos serving like choruses. At the 12th minute guitarist Finn Ryan brings out one of the best lead sections on the record which fits to the pulsating rhythms like a pair of gloves.
It’s only after 23 minutes of pure hard rock assault when the album slows down fit a calming, clean guitar driven part where you can almost place the vocals in with your imagination. But instead it’s another wonderful, soulful solo that does the job. We even get some funky, bass-dominated parts later on before the album goes full throttle in the last ten minutes. An ending this stoner extravaganza on the highest and most explosive note possible.
A concept like this can only succeed in perfect execution and the Bitchwax make it damn sure not to miss a single beat here. Don’t let its length intimidate your, “The Local Fuzz” is one of the best, most audacious jams ever recorded and every minute of it is pure hard rock greatness. A once in lifetime achievement for an underrated yet highly talented trio.