Tomahawk: Oddfellows – album review

Tomahawk: Oddfellows (Ipecac Records)
CD/LP/DL
Out: 28th Jan 2013

With their first album in 6 years, Tomahawk are back with ‘Oddfellows’, their best in over a decade. 

As it’s been about 6 months since the last Mike Patton related release, some of us were beginning to worry that he was getting slack. One look at his discography and related side projects would be enough to convince anyone unfamiliar with his work just how prolific and diverse his output can be.

Tomahawk’s return is definite cause for excitement. Ever since their debut (self-titled) release in 2000, they have intermittently appeared, walking the line between the accessible alt rock of Faith No More and the erratic experimentalism of Patton’s other projects. A juggernaut of obliqueness, they have encapsulated an element of sleazy greatness which sneaks its way inside and does its filthy business.

What separates Tomahawk from most others is the distinctive array of musicians in the band (all, essentially, 90’s rock royalty), which now consists of ex-Mr Bungle member Trevor Dunn, who joins John Stanier (Helmet) and Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard), with Kevin Rutmanis’ tenure having finished.

Possibly, the reconnection of the Mr Bungle alumni has reignited old energies, for there is something instantly familiar about Oddfellows, in the best possible way. It’s like hearing the laugh of an old friend who you haven’t seen or some time. The instantaneous welcome comes in the form of the titular track, which blends seamlessly into Stone Letter, the first single to be taken from the album (which you can watch below).

2007’s Anonymous was met with mixed reviews; its psychedelic interpretation of Native American music and song did not resonate well with everyone, despite being a fantastically well produced and intriguing album. Those who felt more comfortable with the first two Tomahawk releases will find themselves suitable placated by this inimitable return to their signature sound once again, however, there is enough diversity and digression present to appease those who were fonder of their looser efforts.

Frenetic and stuttering riffs are balanced alongside the groove based beats which permeated the Peeping Tom and Lovage releases. I.O.U. is Album of the Year era Faith No More reincarnated; Patton’s recent time with his most beloved outfit has certainly bled through into this release. Hideously infectious choruses are the most distinctive evolution within Tomahawk’s approach to songwriting, creating their best album since their blistering debut over a dozen years ago.

Mike Patton’s records will always appeal to different fans; there are those who are more drawn towards his Avant-Garde experimental work (such as his collaborations with John Zorn, or Pranzo Oltranzista), while others just like the straight up rock stuff. This one is oddly all encompassing, taking elements from Mr Bungle, Fantomas and Faith No More in an almost tribute like manner.

There’s something delightfully sinister about Oddfellows, and its release has got the year off to a fantastic start. This one’s a keeper.

All words by Colin McCracken. You can read more from Colin on Louder Than War here. Colin also writes extensively about movies over at his website zombiehamster.com & you can follow him on Twitter.

You can visit Tomahawk’s Facebook page HERE and Ipecac is on Twitter HERE

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