Evil Acidhead—
In The Name Of All That Is Unholy

Released 2015 on Agitated
The Seth Man, October 2023ce
Behold -- stoner rock from the year 1989.

Although a year not usually associated with said twentieth first century retroactively applied label for music that concentrated on the vertiginous application of heavy riffs, lobotomized rhythms and anything else that set the controls to mind destruction in a manner as effective as it was none too pretty, for John McBain, then a member of earliest Monster Magnet, it was the sound of the future, the basement sludge in his mind of hard rock, space rock, drone repetition, and too many beers that he spewed forth into seven extended tracks with help from Frown’s Greg Chapman and the results are stellar. Interstellar underwear that’s no fun to wear but brother, it sure fits like a dopamine glove. Also fitting is the jarring space rock psychedelia of it all to match all those Helmut Wenske-illustrated Nektar album sleeves1 whose depictions of multi-layered impossible realities (usually set somewhere in isolated outer space) with renditions of eyes or illusionary body parts were all topped off either by photos of the liquid light shows of Mick Brockett or the group logo which was one of the most impressive and bizarre of the seventies: a freestanding headless corpse cut into thirds whilst gripping a staff comprised of an ear at one end and a human ribcage at the other while a bee secures nectar from its...neck.

Released on LP and CD for the first time back in 2015, “In The Name Of All That Is Unholy” is a compilation of all known Evil Acidhead releases (both of them) on self-released cassette (“Depths Of Satan” from 1989/1990 plus half a C-60, “I Control the Moon”) and all of it screams basement psychedelia gone horribly wrong and in the best way possible. At its most hectic, the sound that abounds and resounds and rebounds off the ceiling, caused by zig-zagging red lightning strikes on a field of purple microdot, tripping the dark fantastic on third rail foxtrot in your mind, forever. When quietude rages, it does so but wafting loudly than spine of God in ten thousand years of psychedelic space metal underground super-mega grunge OK.

The looped sonic distortions of “Part I: Invocation” emits a slow roar of continuous toxicity, like NO PUSSYFOOTING through a NO NEW YORK paralytic converter that causes sensations of dizziness, nausea and even laughter and yet: McBain’s run-on soloing continues to wend through the repetition and weave through the chiming of 1,000 o’clock from some distant chronographic pulse. Soon, sonic trails of high-pitched freakery start illuminating the pathway, despite the unchanging speed of trudge until all dissolves but that enduring guitar, fed through every FX in the book until a final guitar vignette cuts through, cuts loose and then fucks off.

“Part II: Descent” is a mist of clouds gather into darkness until Ron Asheton wah-wah’d to hell guitar electric storm erupts and strikes out in the background of unruly, abandoned drone clouds while reality shifts two pixels to the left, leaving a thin vertical patch of nothingness to the side where unresolved possibilities coexist in a broth of future decisions while cause and effect see-saw slowly. Halfway through, everything cuts away for twin keyboard notes that pierce everything with extra cleansing power. Gravity is your co-pilot, only he bailed out during the last track so there is no escape and no way out from this unwinding wave upon wave of sludge above and over the great abyss of silence. Everything seems to be heading sideways, sonicly speaking, until the finale where everything threatens to end only it takes two minutes of infinity to do so. (“And this is the calmest part of the album!” he screamed.)

“Part III: Possession” opens with a bee-stung guitar sample left hung out to dry while McBain, adding several layers of sonic minimalism, only seems to reinforce the repetition into a crosswise pattern that is always the same yet always changing. McBain then re-enters with heavy, feedbacking guitar that is a weft to that repetitious warp, creating hectic patterns. But the torture never stops for whenever things simmer down, they immediately return to boil over and there’s always some errant sonic detritus getting lobbed and lodged wherever.

The brief “Part IV: Acceptance” opens with McBain’s guitar amplifier turned up to tempestuous magnitude, grazing his hand across his (in my mind, SG Gibson Special) guitar strings to create a phalanx of motorcycles all revving up, then fucking with the wah-wah and even talking into the pickups to create a sonic forcefield that had not been accessed in years, nearly opening the portal to do so in the process.

At 23 minutes, “I Control The Moon” is as epic as the title. Threaded by near-constant throbbing pulsations, the undying repetition and the relentlessness of the piece all combine into a slug trail of sonic slime that surrounds your head and threatens your very thoughts. Even as pitch modulations screech in white cat heat up against the guitar distortions banking off from the (only assumed) rhythmless audio substances that have emerged, it does not cease. The electronic cat fight continues as the pulse seems to hang heavier and laden with great purpose until sideswiping guitar lines blast away through the viscous hypnosis, causing no effect on its mind-numbing insistence and from this point on, we’re in unmarked territory. All becomes a rhythmic throb-o-thon with applied distortions similar to parts of Frown’s WALLGHOST (except that this was recorded a decade earlier) except for McBain’s road-tested maximum guitar eruptums that zip across the sonic mindscreen with alarming irregularity.

Hindu intonations soon vanish into oblivion until the entry of a sitar that echoes into loop de loop, dancing all looby as layer upon layer of digital tablas enter with “Looped In The Temple of Yeti” where pitch-controlled noise attacks and echoplexed heart attacks turn sideways into infinity, vandalised by interstellar interference. The repetition of the loop It ceases to exist, caught in a stuck groove forever. Following this arrives the nine-minute exercise of repetition-as-change named “Doom Furnace.” A two-second sample runs backwards throughout, underneath intermittent guitar barrages and random signals until it cuts out, leaving a bloody trail of guitar feedback that finally gets swamped by silence.

These 78 minutes of wanton space rock are available on double LP and CD here.

  1. To be specific, it was those albums released between 1972-1975: A TAB IN THE OCEAN (1972), REMEMBER THE FUTURE (1973), ...SOUNDS LIKE THIS (1973), SUNDAY NIGHT AT LONDON ROUNDHOUSE (1974), DOWN TO EARTH (1974), and RECYCLED (1975).