Unleashing their Rock-n-Roll, trippy, fourth studio record, The Night Creeper, in September of 2015, the English fellows known as Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats continue to cast spells. Hailing from Cambridge, England, the band broke onto the international scene in a big way with their 2011 ear-crushing sophomore album, Blood Lust. Blending Psychedelic, Rock-n-Roll, and tinges of Heavy Metal, the band has fostered a unique sound, leaning heavily on stirring melodies and ferocious riffs. Furthermore, their Pop sensibilities come to the fore, and make for a rousing stew when coupled with the heaviness.
A style that has endeared North American fans, Kevin (K.R.) Starrs (lead guitar/lead vocals/organ), Yotam Rubinger (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Itamar Rubinger (drums), and Vaughn Stokes (bass/backing vocals) have been making it a habit to visit the region as often as possible since 2014. In fact, the band’s late summer/early fall tour in 2016 marks the band’s third visit to the US in the past two years. Not at all wearing out their welcome, on Saturday, September 10th, Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg hosted Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats’ night of fuzzed-out, hard Rock-n-Roll. Considered the midway point of the trek, scheduled to close up shop on September 23rd, this tour sees Uncle Acid teaming up with Portland, Oregon’s Danava and Los Angeles, California’s The Shrine. An exciting lineup, the sold out venue was packed with fans standing shoulder to shoulder as the dark atmosphere and dimly lit stage was the perfect backdrop for a night of out-of-mind experiences.
Up first was The Shrine, who are supporting their latest effort, 2016’s Rare Breed. Made up of Josh Landau (guitar/vocals), Court Murphy (bass), and Jeff Murray (drums), the band has shared the stage with everyone from Ghost to Fu Manchu. Now on the road with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, they find a comfortable spot as hosting opener.
Beginning with the chugging ode to ’70s Hard Rock, “Tripping Corpse,” the song possessed a bouncy riff, breakneck drums, and spirited vocals that moved along at hyper speed. Elements of Punk could be heard in the lyric delivery and phrasing. A groovy, bluesy riff led the way on “Rare Breed,” which quickly gave way to a Sabbath-esque riff, a catchy, harmonic chorus, followed by countless flourishes on guitar that made for a wild ride. Having the room at their command, “Deep River (Livin to Die)” slowed the pace down with an extended intro featuring echoing guitars drenched in feedback before breaking into a Thrash Metal groove replete with sycophantic drums and guitars.
Set closer “Nothing Forever” was the penultimate jog down memory lane for late ’60s/early ’70’ Proto Metal. A dark, plodding riff opened the song and quickly gave way to a speedy tune that never relented. Again, hints of Punk sensibilities could be heard as the vocals came across drenched in angst and cruised along at 100 miles per hour. The Shrine went beyond the call of duty, warming up the crowd, and as result, this deep, dark night was off to a fiery start.
Next to the stage was Danava. Previously joining Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats on their 2014 tour, the audience was very familiar with what the band is all about. Established since 2003, the band consists of Gregory Meleney (vocals/guitar/synthesizers), Dominic Casciato (bass), Matthew Oliver (drums), and Peter Hughes (guitar). Having not released a full-length album since 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, Danava has built a fanbase through touring in the US, as well as Europe.
Arriving on stage to a raucous applause from the fired-up crowd, “Hemisphere of Shadows” began the set with a punchy riff, bringing the Stoner Rock vibe in spades. A funky rhythm set the pace for endless riffing throughout before “Quiet Babies Astray in a Manger” led off with a wiry, eerie intro, reminiscent of classic ’70s Prog Rock. As the intro faded, a wobbly bassline took the lead before the drums kicked in and a perfect slab of ’70s Rock-n-Roll ensued as the groove was straight-ahead and powerful. Also clearly influenced by ’80s Thrash Metal, “Shoot Straight With a Crooked Gun” melded bluesy jamming with frenetic heavy riffs. Keeping all entranced, “The Last Goodbye” closed out the set, steered along by a rapid shuffle on drums, stop-start riffs, and numerous solos interjected. A strange brew of ’60s English Blues Rock and a downright danceable beat left the crowd screaming for more, and showed Danava were a hit.
Having their mind’s completely warped by the previous two bands, as Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats took the stage, the crowd was primed for more Rock-n-Roll. Coming at the sold out crowd with a thirteen song set, they did not disappoint. Alluring harmonies and killer melodies coupled with just about every style of Rock-n-Roll is what has propelled the band into the international spotlight, and as usual, they brought a mixed bag with them to New York.
Going right into the Doom frontier, “Mt. Abraxas” started off with a sludgy, plodding riff echoing classic Doom bands like Pentagram and St. Vitus. Draped over with vocals that could have been plucked from a séance, it was an eerie jaunt. Picking up the pace directly after, “Waiting for Blood” perfectly executed a Heavy Metal riff. Over the riff, throughout the song, intricate, melodic guitar solos darted in and out. Now completely taken in, “Mind Crawler” was a cut that took the audience back to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. A real head-banger with a sprite melody and plenty of cymbal crashes, stops and starts, and a freaky outro, the title was repeated in a menacing manner.
Changing it up a bit, “Over and Over Again,” with its simple, angular riff and deft harmonies, was a song that, if the feedback was turned down a bit, would not feel out of place on the Pop charts. That said, “Dead Eyes of London” probably would have topped the charts in 1969, and when the band rocked it out, a sinewy lead on guitar, drenched in pep, rolled into distortion with a heavy riff channeling golden era Kinks. Topping it all off, a snarky vocal, dripping with distortion, gave the song a sinister edge as it moved along at a breakneck pace, never relenting. Keeping with the B Horror flick vibe, the foreboding intro on “Death’s Door” gave way to a languid groove on a down-tuned guitar, creating a feeling of impending doom and dread. Crawling along at half speed, the tune, placed in the middle of the set, was an excellent change of pace and showed the band’s versatility.
Howling for more, the audience was given “13 Candles,” which, clocking it at over seven minutes, allowed for an unholy amount of dueling guitars trading bruising riffs and virtuoso solos from start to finish. Tempering the flaming guitar work was a melodic vocal, demonstrating the depth of the band as they swayed forth on the stage. Then, without warning, “Pusher Man” was the most thunderous song of the night as it was steeped in the sound of Doom Metal while featuring an incredible mix of droning guitars, early Metal riffs, and loads of distortion. Showing appreciation, fans, slowly head-banging, locked in the groove before “I’ll Cut You Down” eschewed the fuzz and laid down an echoing lead and heavy bass. As the lead progressed, it went up and down the scales before giving way to a biting vocal. Seeming as if it was all a big dream, “Slow Death” then closed out the show as the band displayed impressive restraint. A laid back groove, sounding like The Grateful Dead meets Pink Floyd lo-fi, low key base, while eerie vocals and solo after solo made for a complex sound, it was a Rock trip like no other.
After a brief exit, the band returned for a three song encore and “Melody Lane” got the party started. If the Beatles ever took a turn at Heavy Metal, this is what it would sound like. A well-crafted, distortion-heavy lead scurried along over a peppy bass line. Melodic harmonies, the band’s signature, were delivered with a stern confidence and perfectly accented the heavy guitar work. Next was “Desert Ceremony,” which brought the heavy back to the fore. Another droning lead coupled with airy vocals made for an appealing mix of melody and thunder. Finally,“Withered Hand of Evil” was a perfect finale as it showcased all of the band’s strong points; timeless riffs, heavy foundations from the pocket, vocal harmonies, cryptic, dark lyrics, and explosive solos.
One of their most celebrated tours in the USA of all, there are only a few shows left before they head back over to Europe. Those looking for a night of expertly crafted Rock-n-Roll that dabbles in Psychedelic, Doom, Thrash, Heavy Metal, and sprinkles in Pop stylings, need to check out Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats right away.Photo credit: Ken Buglione Photography