Album Reviews

Falling Hard: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Releases “Wasteland”

They say the strongest human emotion is fear. In fact, it tops Robert Plutchik’s list of eight basic emotions. Love does not find its way into Plutchik’s theory on emotions, but it does find its way (if just barely) into Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Fear, and Love. Two intense emotions; and both of them come into play with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, who just released their fifth proper LP, Wasteland, earlier this month.

The music of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats plays on fear and the macabre throughout their records. Most often dubbed as psychedelic rock and stoner rock, their music also forays into doom metal on occasion. The doom theme is common; in fact, 2015’s The Night Creeper is somewhat of a concept album that tells the story of a Jack-the-Ripper-style serial killer.

Night Creeper by Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

This serial killer theme is driven home in their video for “Melody Lane” off The Night Creeper LP. Disturbing footage, pieced together and accompanied by one of Uncle Acid’s better tracks off the album, and you get the video below (WARNING…the video below is a bit graphic):

So, what about Love? This: not long prior to the announcement of Wasteland‘s forthcoming (now past-tense) release, I fell hard for Uncle Acid. Within the past two months, I’ve added all five releases (including the new one) to my collection, as well as a handful of the band’s singles.

This has happened before, but I’m not quite sure it’s happened as quickly or as intensely as with Uncle Acid.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Releases “Wasteland” LP

I was pretty thrilled upon adding the fourth release to hear that a new album was about to be released on Rise Above Records. Of course, I’ve since added it to the collection.

Uncle Acid Deadbeats Wasteland

For those familiar with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeat’s music, Wasteland should be familiar territory. Like its predecessors, this LP is conceptual. The following excerpt from Loudwire includes a quote from Uncle Acid’s Kevin Starrs:

…the story revolving around Wasteland will leave your brain buzzing. “The album is set in a land where people live in walled cities, under heavy surveillance, cut off and in fear of one another,” Starrs explains. “All their thoughts, knowledge and memories have been wiped clean, leaving them like the living dead, barely functioning and addicted to the glow of flickering propaganda screens. In the underworld, there are program discs for the brain that can replace stolen thoughts and allow people to finally think for themselves. It gives them knowledge to escape the misery of the cities and to reach the freedom of the outer wastelands, but the wasteland, of course, is total hell on earth. The general idea seemed quite fitting with all the propaganda and misinformation that we’ve been bombarded with in recent years.”

The concept itself isn’t entirely unlike The Matrix, though Uncle Acid takes it a few steps further, diving deeper into human emotion and the fear propaganda tends to instill. Wasteland very much captures that wide-eyed horror, the tension and anxiety, and the sensationalism rampant in modern society. Truth is elusive and evasive, and, as Starrs alludes to above, the questions must be begged: Is ignorance bliss? Is knowledge truly the key? Do you forego the horrors of the wasteland in favor of the fears propaganda feeds? Or do you lift the shroud and venture outside of Plato’s Cave into the lands beyond?

Accompanying this storyline are intense, gigantic melodies that complement the band’s historic proto-metal leanings, yet in some instances seem to contradict the terrors and horrors of the story. From the the earliest moments of opener “I See Through You” on to one of my personal favorites, “Bedouin”, toward the album’s end, there’s a melodic element you don’t often hear in music that occasionally includes the term metal.

Throughout Wasteland, Uncle Acid delivers. Eight songs, and not a single weak point. There are ups and downs–don’t get me wrong–the title track withdraws into a soft, partially acoustic sound whereas others dominate in near earth-shattering melodic volumes.

Uncle Acid’s “Shockwave City” Video

Early on, the band shared a video for the single “Shockwave City” — like many of Uncle Acid’s videos, it’s a mash-up of sampled horror film clips and vivid, vibrant colors.

Among the most famous uses of propoganda was during World War II, so it’s no surprise that the dystopian world Uncle Acid creates in Wasteland includes the destructive visuals of nuclear explosions amidst an industrial landscape in “Shockwave City”.

In Summary

Uncle Acid’s music isn’t for everyone, and throwing around terms like stoner rock and doom metal is likely to turn off some before they even dip their toes in, but I’d beg those people to give it a listen. Especially if you have a penchant for heavier rock, drone, or even if you just like a catchy melody.

This band should to be heard, and it’s music like that on The Night Creeper and Wasteland that is bringing it all to fruition. Uncle Acid is making waves, and rightfully so; these albums are f*cking great, and with each new one they keep getting better.

Give it a listen. It will terrify you and make you fall in love at the same time!

Leave a Reply