Mutilator Defeated at Last

Thee Oh Sees

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Mutilator Defeated at Last Review

by Tim Sendra

Calling Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer insanely prolific only gets at half of what makes him and the group he helms so special. Yes, he cranks out a lot of records. 2015's Mutilator Defeated at Last is the group's sixth record in five years and the second after a drastic lineup change. Plus a week after this was released, his electronic project Damaged Bug put out an album. The more important thing is that no matter his guise, Dwyer continues to crank out consistently great to amazing songs and albums that overflow with hot-wired guitars, over-revved vocals, and giant, jagged hooks. After a slight stylistic diversion with 2014's Drop that saw Dwyer and producer/collaborator Chris Woodhouse calming things down a bit and even bringing in some Baroque pop strings, Mutilator is a devastatingly loud and ferocious hard rock album. Dwyer's guitar sounds gnarly and huge, like it's being fed through a thresher and spit back out by a dinosaur, and his playing is unhinged throughout. The opening "Web" sets the scene with its creeping, grinding groove, pummeling drums, and super heavy guitar over which Dwyer's horror movie vocals stalk menacingly. Most of the album falls into this kind of post-psychedelic, pre-heavy metal sound to great effect. It's like Blue Cheer had some tunes worth remembering or Black Sabbath owned a Monkees' record or two. Dwyer even tries his hand at some boogie rock on "Turned Out Light" and basically reinvents the style into something fun. More songs like this, and he could open for Foghat and nobody would bat an eye. To balance out the dark weirdness and loud mayhem, Dwyer adds the witchy acid folk instrumental "Holy Smoke," and a couple of songs that aim for a slightly less bonkers, yet still thickly psychedelic area. "Palace Doctor" and "Sticky Hulks" slow the tempo, but especially on the latter, don't sacrifice any power at all. After Drop some might have expected Thee Oh Sees to continue to explore their softer side, Mutilator Defeated at Last confounds those expectations. Blows them up, really, in a giant fireball of guitars, noise, and psychedelic power.

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