Battleme gained early attention for the lo-fi psych-folk of their eponymous 2012 debut after several tracks showed up on the motorcycle gang drama Sons of Anarchy. Since then, lead singer/songwriter Matt Drenik has pushed the band in an even more road-hardened direction with a fiery garage and punk rock-steeped aesthetic. It's a sound they once again champion on their swaggering fourth studio album, 2017's Cult Psychotica. Imagine if Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell jammed out with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and you'll get a good sense of the sound Battleme achieve here. Purportedly recorded during one frenzied weeklong session at the band's Portland studio, the album is a red-eyed collection of fuzzy rock anthems, all centered on Drenik's throaty, nasal-pitched sneer. What he lacks in outright vocal resonance, he makes up for with strutting rock attitude and literate, philosophical lyrics that are equal parts Lou Reed and Elliott Smith. On the opening "No Truth," he sings "What's you gonna do when your gods are through, man?/What's you gonna say when your love is through, man?" It's that kind of shoot-from-the-hip, punk-meets-beatnik sensibility that informs much of what is to come on Cult Psychotica. Cuts like the driving "Suzie Fuse" and "Testament" are bass-heavy and deliciously boneheaded groovers that sound sort of like a more streamlined version of '90s-era Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Elsewhere, the propulsive "Wanna Go Home" and "Hot Mess," with its dancy, four-on-the-floor rhythm and angular shards of guitar, lean heavily toward the '80s post-punk of bands like the Buzzcocks and Wire. If Battleme started out writing songs to listen to after driving your Harley out into the desert, then Cult Psychotica is the sound of revving your engine just before you speed off down the highway, shouting at the sun.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar