"Mind Control"

(Metal Blade/Rise Above)

01. Mt. Abraxas
02. Mind Crawler
03. Poison Apple
04. Desert Ceremony
05. Evil Love
06. Death Valley Blues
07. Follow the Leader
08. Valley of the Dolls
09. Devil's Work

RATING: 6.5/10

For most hard rock and metal fans, the release of UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS' "Mind Control" will feel like joining a long-running horror movie franchise - be it "Evil Dead", "Friday the 13th", whatever - midway through, or more precisely, episode three.

The pertinent question being: did they miss too many crucial elements of the backstory to properly appreciate the plotlines presented by this third episode, or can they even understand what the underground fuss over the group is all about, without the context of the group's earlier albums?

Well, the likely answer is that neophytes will probably enjoy 2013's "Mind Control" quite a bit more than will those familiar with 2010's "Vol. 1" and '11's "Bloodlust", because there's frankly a slight, but distinct drop-off in several areas here: in the freshness of the songwriting, in the overall energy propelling the performances, and quite simply in the mystique surrounding the group, now that it is, in fact, a group, rather than the almost single-handed work of the once reclusive UNCLE ACID himself.

Digging into the LP's musical entrails, we find that the psychedelic proto-doom of "Mind Control" is, by and large, decidedly darker, murkier, and almost withdrawn in comparison to what came before - as though the public face and fleshed out touring DEADBEATS assembled by UNCLE ACID instigated a reflexive defensive posture where songs like leaden LP opener, "Mt. Abraxas" (which briefly awakes when it borrows the riff from SABBATH's "After Forever"), the urgent but somewhat tuneless "Evil Love", and the comparatively somnolent "Death Valley Blues", are concerned.

Luckily, the livelier "Mind Crawler" duly reveals the band's sharper fangs via rugged staccato riffs; the partly acoustic "Follow the Leader" rattles its skeleton via acid folk vibes complete with sitar solo (all of which oddly makes UNCLE ACID's nasal whine sound like Perry Farrell, of all people, but in a good way!); "Valley of the Dolls" clearly indulges in the band's favored B-Movie lingo, backed by torpid twin guitar harmonies and seriously malefic riffs; and the haunting "Devil's Work" amplifies both the psych-doom ambiance and satanic ritual ("I'm the devil?and I'm here to do the devil's work") to an entirely new level, possibly qualifying it as the LP's top track.

So, in other words, this is something of a mixed bag: partly marked by disappointment, partly brand new thrills of a subtler, less immediate sort, but which may, in time, prove themselves nothing more than transitional growing pains pointing ahead to UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS' next unqualified triumph.

And the good news for first-time viewers, not loaded with the baggage of prior high expectations, is that this third episode in the band's horror music saga will probably seem just as demonically alluring as the first two did for those welcomed earlier into the cabal of UNCLE ACID.

So buy your movie tickets and judge for yourself?


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