Spit Blood

The Atomic Bitchwax

Meteor City Records, 2002

http://www.theatomicbitchwax.com

REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/22/2003

When considering the music credentials of the members of the Atomic Bitchwax, there's little room left for debating that the band carries the goods to be heralded as one of the forerunners of the "stoner rock" movement. With the band's first two albums, inconspicuously titled Atomic Bitchwax and Atomic Bitchwax II, being received with generally wide acclaim, guitarist Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet fame, bassist Chris Koznik (ex-Godspeed), and drummer Keith Ackerman found themselves releasing what normally would be considered an EP of sorts with their seven-song effort Spit Blood.

In fact, this effort is more of a hodge-podge of tracks that are now being given the light of day. One AC/DC cover song, one jam from a previous album that has an alternate close, three new tracks, and two dusted-off songs from 1996 form the guts of this release.

The liner notes mention that the band only performs the AC/DC cover ("Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap") live when they can summon a "guest singer with balls" to perform the vocals. This should give you a good impression of how crappy the song sounds as the lead track on this album. There's absolutely nothing revolutionary to say about the Bitchwax's version as all of the original arrangements of the song remain intact; the vocals are simply horrid.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Liquor Queen" is an alternate version of the track that appeared on Atomic Bitchwax II. The Spit Blood take is a groovy little number, highly synthesized in the opening, that maintains the same overall pace and sonic diversity of the previously released version. While devoid of lyrics, the song is a scorching jam session, suggesting nothing more for the listener to do other than buckle up for the ride.

When studying the new tracks, I'm moved to say the song "Cold Day in Hell" is imminently forgettable with its repetitive loops until the last minute or so when the song is fused with the spaced-out warble of Mundell's guitar riffing. It's the cosmic sound where the Atomic Bitchwax are at their distinctive best. The title track is a spacy effort that has the band experimenting with sounds culminating in a nod to a late 1960's-era drone of psychedelia. The common thread that can be associated with all three of the new songs on Spit Blood are that the jams are much slower and drawn out than nearly all of the tracks on the first two Atomic Bitchwax albums. You could call it stoner rock relying on the blues to guide one through the night, or you could just say the Atomic Bitchwax's performance of these tunes is far less exciting than their previous work.

The other two tracks, "Black Trans-Am" and the funk-style "U Want I Should," are songs recorded from the early Atomic Bitchwax era that muscle their way through the album with the stoned-out 80's vibe that essentially spawned the whole stoner rock movement. While the two songs have undergone re-mixing since they were first recorded, they remain distinctive.

This "vault" style release captures each period of time leading up to the band's previous studio releases, incorporating the varying styles in a mix-n'-match way. The end result is a bumpy listening experience. It's worth noting that Ed Mundell quit the band just weeks before the album's official release; I can't help but wonder if the events leading up to Mundell's departure allowed for the album to be constructed in such a sloppy way. A possible saving grace to this whole mess is that Meteorcity kicks in a sampler CD disc of other bands tracks from the stoner scene. The sampler helps make up for the some of the deficiencies that eventually drown Spit Blood.

Spit Blood should be remembered for what it is and that is nothing more than a "cleaning of the closet" of material most suited for die-hard Atomic Bitchwax fans. Given that the album's best song can be found elsewhere in their library, that's probably where you should focus your attention.

Rating: C-

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© 2003 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Meteor City Records, and is used for informational purposes only.