(Planet Me)
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
TOMAHAWK. Oddfellows.

10 years after the last album of original material, Mike Patton-fronted Tomahawk come back from suspended animation – a lacklustre 2007 LP of covers of Native Indian Anthems aside – with what I could politely call a return to form : “Oddfellows” is a worthy successor, and also, it's about time Patton played this one of his many strengths, a voice like Herecules, and melodic control that crushes so many of his once-peers in the trampled mud of their own mediocrity. Which is another way of saying Patton has an amazing vocal range and ability, and here he uses it to the full.

It's a welcome return : 2003's “Mit Gas” was easily the best Patton LP in recent years and this is just as good. It lacks the crazed, bulging-eye silliness of the “Crank 2 : High Voltage” soundtrack, but makes up for it in dense songwriting, deft arrangement, and a more hooks than a pirate film. The album doesn't so much roar, as lurk, where the space between the songs is as potent as the unseen in a horror film, where, like the pause in Metallica's “Sad But True”, some of the heaviest silence in musical history. On “Stone Letter”, and “White Hat/Black Hat”, Pattons voice – an instrument in itself – becomes the sound of a thousand melodies fighting with themselves. Which is a way of saying the huge, multi-layered song weaves guitars, vocals, and rhythms to a dense and satisfying conclusion.

The flipside of this is that sometimes Tomahawk do understated : “A Thousand Eyes” is all spindly guitars and hushed vocals – but before long it's back to the kind of literate, noisy rubbish that Tomahawk do better than anyone else. “South Paw” is a glorious bag of angry cats being thrown stairs whilst someone listens to a Ramones rehearsal on a cheap tape deck. And it sounds wonderful – especially Patton's epic 30 second scream on “Typhoon.”. The whole record, short and succinct, but also potent and loaded with melody and tension/release is a refreshing and satisfying fix from Patton and his comrades. A welcome, and fiery return to the arena.

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