“I want you/And I need you/And I’ll bleed you.”
In a lot of ways, the first chorus lines to opener “I’ll Cut You Down” sum up a lot of what’s happening on Blood Lust, the second full-length from Cambridge trio Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. And I do mean “happening.” As much as it can be in this genre, the hype behind this band and Blood Lust in particular has been stifling. So much so that at the end of 2011, they topped my “Top 5 Albums I Didn’t Hear” list. Suddenly I felt as if I’d neglected some great duty. I was out of touch. My life was about to change and all the hyperbole about best this-and-that was only a scale on the back of this Godzilla-sized monster of malevolent stoner doom.
Whatever. I gave in to the peer pressure and bought the record. The appeal was immediate when I first put it on. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats sounds like Electric Wizard‘s blown-out cousin getting off on oldie cult horror. Blood Lust practically draws a pentagram on its own notebook. The riffs are distorted in extrema and the vocals, cooed with a malevolent melodicism, follow catchy structures so simple they can’t help but get stuck in your head. That’s especially true of songs like “I’ll Cut You Down,” “Death’s Door” and “13 Candles,” but the swing of “Over and Over Again,” though it’s not as instantly memorable, has a hook all its own.
From what I’ve been able to tell from listening, though, a big part of the appeal with Blood Lust is the familiarity of it. Riffs are recognizable without being easy to directly place, and the whole record brims with an occult ’70s vibe that’s mirrored in the artwork. If you took a survey of doomers and stoner heads and you asked them what they wanted to hear, you might come out of it with the mournful plod of “Curse in the Trees” or the mid-paced organ-laden stonerly chug of “Withered Hand of Evil.” That said, one of the most engaging aspects of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats on these tracks is that they’re not immediately accessible to outsiders. Play this stuff for someone unfamiliar with the genre, and you’re going to get stared at — and that’s clearly on purpose. The band are preaching solely to the already-converted, and clearly it’s working. I paid $25 for this record.
Reportedly, that’s better than some have done on eBay. And simple though it is, Blood Lust shows several directions Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ progression could take. The progressive shuffle of “I’m Here to Kill You” is not only the best performance from drummer Red (Kat rounds out the lineup on bass), but also a bold stylistic departure from the rest of the album (maybe less so from “Ritual Knife,” but still). The same applies to the acoustic bonus track on the Killer Candy Records CD version, “Down to the Fire,” which takes Uncle Acid‘s psychedelic snarl and recontextualizes it over sweet Zeppelin melodies and percussion. That Blood Lust follows a lyrical narrative — about a murder — could also foretell development to come. They could just as easily “go prog” as so many did in the early and mid ’70s as they could stick to the formula of soot-covered distortion that works so well for them here.
Whatever the case, I don’t regret the purchase, which is a rarity for me when it comes to albums I’m buying because someone else (in this case multiple people) thinks I need to hear them, and for what it’s worth, if I was going to do my top 20 today, Blood Lust would probably be on it. Should be interesting to see where Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats go from here, and wherever that might be, I’ll try my best not to let it slip through the cracks.
Tags: Cambridge, Killer Candy Records, UK, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats