Acid King- Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Time sure does fly doesn’t it? It really doesn’t seem like ten years have passed since Acid King released III back in 2005, but that may just be a testament to how strong of an album it was as it’s one I’ve continued to listen to regularly since release. Despite the lengthy gap between recordings, it isn’t as if the band ever really went away as they continued to do occasional local shows in the Bay Area and performances overseas. With this year’s Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere Acid King has returned with their distinctive brand of doom/stoner metal and the biggest change between this album and their previous output seems to be that the sound has filled out even more and the instrumentals have just as much atmosphere and melodic tendencies as the heavier grooves one might expect. It’s a truly entrancing listen, and finds this long running group switching things up without losing what made them so enticing in the first place.

There are a lot of albums in this genre that take some time to sink in, but Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere is one that’s capable of making an immediate impression. After a sprawling four minute intro track sets up Acid King’s mix of heavier grooves and soaring atmospherics, the instrumentals completely open up on “Silent Pictures” and this is where it becomes clear just how much of a shift the band’s sound has gone through in the past decade. Although they certainly haven’t lost any of the heavy grooves from year’s past, there’s a much fuller and expansive style throughout this release that gives it an identity of its own. The combination of the mellower and heavy elements makes Acid King’s latest completely entrance the listener, and each song is able to build layers of melodic atmosphere that reach absolutely stunning levels. There’s plenty to take in during the fifty three minute run time, though my favorite cut continues to be the almost nine minute title track where melodies rise and fall naturally with the heavier base in a way that’s hypnotic and demands your full attention for its entirety. It also helps that the material has been recorded and mixed in a way that allows the nuances to break free and expand naturally, allowing the guitars to soar over the bass and drums at key points. A lot of the doom/stoner metal I’ve been listening to in recent months has been focused on being as heavy as possible, but Acid King seems focused on taking the listener on a spiritual journey with their heavy grooves and softer melodies that wash over the rest of the sound, and it’s sure to keep listeners coming back for more.

Earlier on singer Lori S. had a harsher, more abrasive vocal style but since 1997’s Down with the Crown she’s utilized a cleaner pitch that still maintained a good deal of power. While I’ve always found myself drawn in by her particular style, I think that Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere might just be the best one yet. Lori’s voice soars in a similar manner as the guitar work, and it’s prominent enough in the mix that it grabs the listener before expanding outward and fading out naturally. It’s great find that Acid King has the perfect mix of power and hazier, hypnotic melodies in their vocals and that may be what makes this particular effort feel like a major progression from what the band has done before. Listening to a song like “Red River” one can’t help but get sucked into each and every word as the singing ebbs and flows over the crunchier instrumental work, and despite the fact that vocals can sometimes come as a bit of an afterthought on doom records there’s an equal balance between the two elements here that makes a big difference.

Acid King had already proved over a decade ago that they were a very capable doom/stoner metal band with some killer grooves, but on Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere they’ve taken some logical steps forward and showcased the ability to change while still staying true to their original sound. So many groups of this type have a tendency to make incremental changes and re-write some of the same ideas over again with minor differences, but Acid King has broadened out considerably and injected layers of atmosphere and calming hazy melodies into their heavier base. It’s the type of album that will grab listeners right from the start while also having enough subtler nuances to keep them wanting to explore, and should be a mandatory pick up for anyone interested in this type of music. Acid King may have put a lengthy gap between releases, but the time definitely seems to have been well spent.

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