REVIEW: THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX – FORCE FIELD (2017)

Bow down, bitches 

“The Atomic Bitchwax is an American rock band from New Jersey, formed in 1993 by bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik. Atomic Bitchwax mixes elements of 1960s psychedelic rock and 1970s riff rock, filtered through modern progressive rock.”

The above – to paraphrase Alan Partridge – are not our words but those of Wikipedia, and whilst all of that is (kinda) true, it neglects the key point: The Atomic Bitchwax have for about 24 years, distilled rock n roll into its most basic form, and have been quite wonderful at it.

In the style of Wiki style brass tacks, the 12 songs contained on “Force Field” clock in at just over half an hour, which is lovely, but it would be remiss of us if we didn’t point out that not since the Backyard Babies released “Total 13” or Monster Magnet stuck out “Powertrip”, has music been infused with this much breakneck fuzzy fun.

Mention of Dave Wyndorf’s godlike crew isn’t a mistake on our part, either. Both Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella are in MM these days, its just here they sound like they are swigging from beer cans, eating four day old Chinese food and watching all manner of quality porn while they kick out the jams.

Because while in their day jobs they are playing a little bit of space rock here, reworking an old Magnet record there, here it is just balls out three-minute degenerate gems.

“Hippie Speedball” takes the first Hellacopters album and decides it wasn’t urgent enough. A chorus that is both catchy and contains the phrase “die all humans just like you” isn’t to be sniffed at either.

There are moments here when the record seems only to be an excuse for both Kosnik to shout out another potty mouthed slogan, and for Finn Ryan – who absolutely excels here – to rip out another wonderful lead. “Earth Shaker (Which Doobie You Be?)” accomplishes more in 188 seconds than many bands manage in a lifetime.

“Alaskan Thunder Fuck” (perhaps no further discussion of its incredible merits is needed after such a title) pummels you and then comes back to ransack your drinks cabinet for the drive home, “Shocker” is like Thin Lizzy watched at 12 speed on your Sky Box – albeit Phillo never quite got as many swear words in as this – and “Crazy” is absolutely the sound of ebullience right there.

“Fried, Dyed And Layin’ To The Side” is an instrumental, but still manages to sound like the best jam ever, “Shell Of A Man” is an attack on the “metlalhead Nazi’s” and asks the plaintive question: “am I cool enough for you?” the answer is yes, by the way.

“Force Field” is not a record that rests on anything, least of all its laurels. “Houndstooth” happily follows the formula of the rest, “Tits And Bones” on the other hand, seems intent on breaking the record for the most solos ever played in under three minutes.

“Humble Brag” offers you the chance to “come around for the beat down” and would perhaps be upset if you didn’t, as Kosnik thumps his bass as if it owes him money, “Super Highway” is a road that you’ll enjoy too, even if “everybody got a gun”, as its staccato rhythms are spat out.

Speaking of invitations. The last cut here, “Liv A Little” borrows a little from Deep Purple, in that if Black Knight was a glam rock stomper it would sound like this.

But you’d best heed the advice and let your hair down with The Atomic Bitchwax. Frankly “Force Field” is a breakneck thrill ride of filth. It is also one of the albums of the year.

Rating 9/10