Tomahawk: Oddfellows – Album Review

by Bill Nihill on February 8, 2013

Tomahawk OddfellowsTomahawk has returned to their roots on 2013’s Oddfellows which is one of the most solid rock releases of the year so far, and likely will be on top lists at this year’s end.

Oddfellows manages to transcend any recent rock trends, yet includes elements from the individual band members’ past. Echoes of Mr. Bungle can be heard on the track “Rise Up Dirty Waters,” as Patton riffs over a jazz infused, quick tempo beat that goes loud and soft. One of the recurring music themes on this album, and when Tomahawk seems to be at their best, is when they implement their soft then loud approach. “Stone Letter” is one example.

The mellower tracks on the album take some patience to reveal their intrigue. It’s a little reward from repeated listens, as you’ll find tracks like “A Thousand Eyes” and “I.O.U.” begin to become equally as addictive to the more aggressive ones like “Warratorium.”

“White HatsBlack Hats” is the track most reminiscent of “The Real Thing” era, early-Patton Faith No More, with some brief high notes and harmonies that will remind you of “From Out of Nowhere” and “Falling to Pieces.” Other tracks harness bits of early Tomahawk, Fantômas, late 90’s Faith No More, and vintage The Jesus Lizard noise, which combines to make a really refreshing straight-up alternative metal/rock album.

The first single released, “Stone Letter,” is an accessible track that was a smart decision as the first single. While it isn’t representative of the overall sound of the album, “Stone Letter” is a song that would be a refreshing change of pace on today’s rock radio scene (be sure to request it if you still happen to listen to the radio). There are few people that won’t enjoy the “King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime” nostalgia this track develops.

Track number 9, “South Paw,” may be the “God Hates a Coward” of this album. It begins with an immediately infectious beat,  changing into Patton’s  signature delicate, soft-spoken verse that  slowly builds to a heavy, intense chorus. All the while,  the driving beat enslaves your inner ear courtesy of ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier , propelling  the song forward to another catchy Denison guitar riff. It’s hard not to love  this distorted, 90’s style noise-guitar rock combined with a hooky chorus, nonsensical lyrics “You rubbed me so wrong, with the south paw”, and Helmet-like unstoppable beat.

Bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3),  is an addition on this album, adding a heavy, distinct bass sound that is a welcome addition to Tomahawk, complimenting Duane Denison’s guitar work nicely.

Musically, the groove of Oddfellows feels like music to drive to. There aren’t many tracks on this album that are “skippers,” it’s one of those rare set-it-and-forget it releases that come about only a few times a year. This is Tomahawk’s strongest release since their debut album, and perhaps more important in the world of alternative metal and rock today.

Be prepared to add Oddfellows to your favorites playlist and have these tracks permanently implanted into your brain, this one’s a keeper.

Essential tracks: Rise Up Dirty Waters, South Paw, White HatsBlack Hats, Warratorium, I.O.U 

We also recently added this album to our top metal albums of 2013, where it ranks near the top. Months after its release, we’re still playing this album. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4.75/5

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