After a detour with 2007′s quirky “Anonymous” album, Tomahawk is back with its fourth effort, “Oddfellows“. Indeed they are. This time around the guys have replaced former and founding bassist Kevin Rutmanis with Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Melvins lite).
Along with Dunn remain vocalist Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas), drummer John Stanier (Helmet, Battles), and guitarist Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard).
Ten years after its sophomore album, “Mit Gas“, Tomahawk has picked up its signature groove and continued its eclectic journey of experimentation through the paradigm of rock and roll.
Every time any Mike Patton related project releases an album, the nerdy, wordy, literati critics pour from the woodwork, thesaurus in hand, to write odes to his brilliance and how the world may shift based on said effort. One hopes that Patton is not as pretentious as some of his journalistic followers. I doubt he is.
On “Oddfellows” the guys throw it all into the mix at one point of another on the record. There is plenty of quirkiness and experimentation threaded between more straight forward pop, metal, and punk elements. The addition of Dunn seems to elevate the bottom end noticeably, and the rhythm section is a steady force throughout. Patton’s vocals are delightful as always as he manages to traverse from haunting and broody serial killer lulling to a forceful and aggressive rage. Denison does for the guitar what Patton does for the vocals, and one may well find his photo under “nuance” in the dictionary.
The album’s first single, “Stone Letter” speaks to the bands sometime punk-pop esthetic. The video for which can be viewed below.
A Helmet-esque undercurrent carries “The Quiet Few” which follows the creepy, jazzy, lounge lizard vibe of “Rise Up Dirty Waters”.
“I Can Almost See Them” plays like a backdrop for a Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez film. That same rhythmic guitar line stumbles through the slightly sludgy ” Waratorium”.
The Ramones meet surf guitarist Dick Dale on “Southpaw”, while “White Hats/Black Hats” finds Chris Cornell dumpster diving with Cheap Trick.
Every track on “Oddfellows” offers a different sonic perspective which keeps the record engaging and exciting to experience. While it may not be a record one plays frequently, it is one that can be enjoyed thoroughly from top to bottom.
If you are a fan of the bands from which the members of Tomahawk hail you will readily find a lot to like on “Oddfellows“. If not, it’s still worth taking the trip just to see where you end up by the end of the record. Oddfellows, indeed.
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Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.