Acid King

The Early Years

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Understandably for a band that, in its infancy, fell under the monolithic influence of both sludge rock titans the Melvins and stoner metal demigods Sleep, San Francisco's Acid King were bound to interpret the primeval doom of Black Sabbath through an especially cobweb-caked kaleidoscope of sound. Which is why, despite a career marked by meager sales of infrequent output amid extended periods of inactivity, there remains enough consumer curiosity and demand to justify reissues such as Small Stone's The Early Years, containing Acid King's eponymous 1994 EP and the next year's full-length, Zoroaster. The first of these was in fact produced -- if you can call its lo-fi aesthetic "production" -- by the Melvins' own Dale Crover, whose broad personal experience with capturing thundering bottom ends is certainly felt on the ode to poison fumes, "Lead Paint," the hypnotic power chords of "Blasting Cap," and the depressive dirge of "Midway." The barbed-wire wail of guitarist Lori S. cuts through all of these like, well, barbed wire, but bassist Pete Lucas gets a shot at the microphone as well for the malevolent, almost space rock-tinged crawl of "Drop." Tellingly, Zoroaster's succeeding ten songs sounded a little thin compared to the Crover-produced EP, but there was still plenty of chunky, distorted "Sabbage" in store for the bong-toting burnouts in the audience to nod off to, ranging from the energized stoner metal of "If I Burn," "Tank," and "Queen of Sickness" to the tail-dragging doom grinds of "One Ninety Six" and "Reload." And as long as Mary Jane and music go together, Acid King and their back catalog will continue to reach new fans with each passing year, mainstream acknowledgment be damned.

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