After a 10-year recording hiatus, the San Francisco-native Acid King recently came out with their fourth full-length release, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. They were part of the ‘90s stoner metal wave, along with Sleep and Electric Wizard. Emerging from the birthplace of the Summer of Love, the power trio has boasted some of the grooviest riffs out there with signature droning wails from frontwoman Lori S. Their sound has been very consistent since their debut twenty years ago, so do they maintain that resonance with their latest album?
The album art features a wizard riding a tiger (a Dio reference?) over the moon wielding a staff of marijuana bud and crystals. Makes sense to me. The LP is bookended by an intro and outro that play off of each other and get you into the mood. They are simple, mellow, and feature some backward playing. The first song, “Silent Pictures” starts the main part of the record with Acid King’s distinct heavy slab of metal. The riffs bombinate the ears with a spacey vibe, which was originally incepted by the album cover. Lori’s vocals kick in almost three minutes in, adding an interesting layer. She usually has a clean style, which can be a contrast to the dazed guitar, but it has always worked here. Her elongated howls are succinct with the strung-out tunes.
“Coming Down from Outer Space” follows and is one of my go-to tracks on the release. It speeds the tempo up a bit, and the vocal melodies are on point. The lyrics are repetitious, but this usually works with stoner metal. The song compliments its lyrical themes and does give the feeling of intergalactic travel. The record continues with “Laser Headlights” and loses a bit of steam. It is not as groovy as previous compositions and it meanders somewhat. Not a bad one, but it is the beta to the previous track’s alpha.
“Red River” is next, and was the first song released from this album (for good reason). The track delivers plodding, stretched-out riffs and Lori’s extended wails are very effective here, making the track far-out. It is a slow lava flow: highly viscous, but powerful. “Infinite Skies” continues the record to medium-quality results. It has a similar vibe to “Red River,” with baked guitar playing and more psychedelic chants. I would rather put on a different track from Acid King’s backlog.
The record finishes with the title track and by this time, the formula grows tiresome. I love the Acid King sound, but there is not enough variety to keep my full attention by the end of the album. The droning melodies of the track are appreciated, but it feels like “been there, done that” at this point. However, the new record by the trio is very solid. There are some definite standout tracks that I will keep in my stoner/doom/psychedelic rotation. Their signature music has hardly changed since their emergence over twenty years ago. Ultimately, their sound resonates as well as it ever has, though can get a bit monotonous.
2. Silent Pictures
3. Coming Down from Outer Space
4. Laser Headlights
5. Red River
6. Infinite Skies
7. Center of Everywhere
Acid King are:
Lori S. – Guitar, Vocals
Mark Lamb – Bass
Joey Osbourne – Drums