Acid King (1994-1995):
Lori S: Guitars, Vox
Peter Lucas: Bass, Vox
Joey Osbourne: Drums
Original 10" artwork by $2.
Original Zoroaster artwork by Bill George.
CD Layout by Lori S, S2, and Joey Toscano.
Lori, Peter, and Joey, the original Acid King line-up, wrote these first two recordings in The Basement of Peter's house in San Francisco where they practiced, with much inspiration from their roommates: Jay, S2, and Criticall Lass. This is where it all began...
Sympathy for the Record Industry released the first Acid King recording, the self titled 10-inch (SFTR 316) in 1994 only on vinyl, and the first full-length, Zoroaster (SFTRI 379), in 1995. Both recordings have been out of print for many years... Until now!
From their humble origins way back in 1993 in San Francisco, Acid King have, over the course of three albums and numerous splits and EPs, grown into one of the lumbering leading lights of the stoner doom scene, not just in the States but worldwide. This collection which brings together their self titled 1994 10" EP and their 1995 debut album, "Zoroaster" gives us the chance to revisit those early days and see how the band has developed with the passage of time.
This isn't the first time this package has seen the light of day, in 2006 Japanese label Leaf Hound Records issued a version of this album but since that, the label appear to have committed hara-kiri so it now falls to Acid King's current label Small Stone to finish the job…and finish it they will, this is limited to 1000 copies so when it's gone, it's gone!!!
Listening back to these early recordings it's incredible to hear how, barely a year into their existence, powerful, confident and fully formed the band sounded. Having Billy Anderson at the controls certainly helps to get the depth of sound, but musically Acid King had it all right from the start. For vocalist/guitarist Lori, the simplicity of the riff is key. I couldn't really say this is fat free as the whole thing is bigger than Oprah Winfrey on a cake binge, but the uncomplicated arrangements and crushing, rolling riffs have more gravitas and weight than any number of widdly twiddly guitar work outs. Peter Lucas' bass is so all encompassing it threatens to burst through the speakers and the band tune so low it almost drops off the scale of human audible tolerance, while Joey Osbourne's drums take more of a beating than a child molester in prison!!! Lori caps the whole thing off with a vicious, sadistic snarl that still somehow retains her femininity. When she gives Old Nick a ticking off on "Evil Satan" you can almost imagine the horned one's balls shrivelling!!!
Nowadays bands peddling such sub sonic abuse are ten a penny but in 1993 Acid King adopted the scuzzy biker doom of St Vitus and mixed it up with the low end aural thuggery of the Melvins to create something pretty unique and terrifying. Perhaps Lori's marriage at the time to Dale Crover of The Melvins caused her some irreparable musical damage. This is dark, heavy and oppressive stuff but not without groove, a bluesy heart and a psychedelic soul…imagine one of the hippos from Disney's Fantasia sitting on your chest while Billy Holliday sings Black Sabbath tunes in the background while gargling razors!!!! If they were this good this early on, I'll definitely be revisiting the rest of their back catalogue, I suggest you do too.
One of the stoner metal world’s finest (if least heralded) denizens, Acid King has had a long but unprolific career. Indie label Small Stone has done its best to keep the AK flag in flight, releasing the Bay Area trio’s most recent album III and reissuing its landmark second LP Busse Woods. Now SS does the same for the band’s first recordings, rescuing its self-titled EP and debut full-length Zoroaster from oblivion. Acid King has always been one of the most consistently powerful beasts in the stoner rock biz, and that power was present from the beginning. Leader Lori S trades in riffs that flow like molten steel from an overturned crucible, and her raspy alto bespeaks of late nights, last calls and lost innocence. Drummer Joey Osborne hits with the power and precision of a giant stomping a village, while bassist Peter Lucas (gone after these records) throbs in whatever empty space is left. Lori’s songwriting includes just enough melody to be enticing, but remains heavy as a blue whale in the grand Black Sabbath tradition. Crushers like “If I Burn,” “Lead Paint” and “Queen of Sickness” set standards not only for Acid King’s subsequent work, but also the stoner metal bands that followed, most of whom still labor to catch up.
- Michael Toland
Understandably for a band that, in its infancy, fell under the monolithic influence of both sludge rock titans the Melvins and stoner metal demigods Sleep, San Francisco's Acid King were bound to interpret the primeval doom of Black Sabbath through an especially cobweb-caked kaleidoscope of sound. Which is why, despite a career marked by meager sales of infrequent output amid extended periods of inactivity, there remains enough consumer curiosity and demand to justify reissues such as Small Stone's The Early Years, containing Acid King's eponymous 1994 EP and the next year's full-length, Zoroaster. The first of these was in fact produced -- if you can call its lo-fi aesthetic "production" -- by the Melvins' own Dale Crover, whose broad personal experience with capturing thundering bottom ends is certainly felt on the ode to poison fumes, "Lead Paint," the hypnotic power chords of "Blasting Cap," and the depressive dirge of "Midway." The barbed-wire wail of guitarist Lori S. cuts through all of these like, well, barbed wire, but bassist Pete Lucas gets a shot at the microphone as well for the malevolent, almost space rock-tinged crawl of "Drop." Tellingly, Zoroaster's succeeding ten songs sounded a little thin compared to the Crover-produced EP, but there was still plenty of chunky, distorted "Sabbage" in store for the bong-toting burnouts in the audience to nod off to, ranging from the energized stoner metal of "If I Burn," "Tank," and "Queen of Sickness" to the tail-dragging doom grinds of "One Ninety Six" and "Reload." And as long as Mary Jane and music go together, Acid King and their back catalog will continue to reach new fans with each passing year, mainstream acknowledgment be damned.
- Eduardo Rivadavia