Those bad boys in Oneida have always liked to rage, it's just that on their first record they do it a bit differently than on subsequent releases. The very fact that they use their real names instead of over-the-top stage names could indicate that they had yet to mature into the schizoid, noisy, booty-shaking rockers they were destined to become. Be that as it may, A Place Called El Shaddai's succeeds as a drugged-out piece of lo-fi experimentalism, as if the guys were in the basement attacking their instruments with hedonistic abandon for six days straight. Fortunately for the listener, the basement must've had the proper vibes, and whatever chemicals were floating in their heads were doing their job, because this loose, messy album is filled with enticing moments. The duo -- there were only two permanent members at this time -- and their pals veer from hypnotic, spacey ballads (the surprisingly beautiful "Salad Days") to fuzzed-out rockers (the tasty opener "Hieronymus" and the funk-skronk of "Ghandi for Now") with plenty of free form noisefests in between. The band conjures the spirits of the Velvets, Sonic Youth, John Zorn, and other N.Y.C. avatars as they carry on that city's proud tradition of musically preparing for -- and helping to bring about -- the apocalypse.
AllMusic Review by Will Lerner