Spit Blood

The Atomic Bitchwax

Meteor City Records, 2002


REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


Weird Al once sang "It's all about the Pentium baby." When listening to this CD, he might have sung "It's all about track order, baby."

Or something like that.

Atomic Bitchwax, a sludge rock trio with a deep homage routinely paid to the fuzzy guitar riff rock of the '70s, starts out their 2002 release with a cover of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." Immediately, vocalist/bassist Chris Kosnik annoys. He's in agony, much like my ears were as I listened to him screaming. Sing and it won't hurt. Musically, the trio manages to play the song in the traditional way without adding any new dimensions to it. And that's where my personal belief about cover songs comes in. In playing another band's song, there should be something that makes the song unique as compared to the original. If you dig out a great comp from Fearless Records called Punk Goes Metal, you'll hear punk bands that take traditional heavy metal songs and play them. The bands that succeed on that comp are the bands that add their own element to the song. For example, Bigwig covers Slayer's "War Ensemble." They put a jazz interlude in the song. Slayer and jazz. That's different, that's unique and that's taking a song and making it theirs by using creativity. So Atomic Bitchwax's cover of "Dirty Deeds" didn't go over well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Second track"Liquor Queen" is much better. The song starts with a low volume intro -- think the very beginning of Metallica's "Orion" --> before Mundell rips into a riff straight from the '70s. Then Ackerman and Kosnik launch their respective parts and the song takes off. Munell powers the song with energy. I could envision the three musicians watching each other as the song goes through the sections in the song . . . and smiling.

That's all well and good, but there's more. Atomic Bitchwax should have have put third track "Get Your Gear" as the first song. Period. The song fades in with the trio playing a great groove, powered by Ed Mundell's guitar riff and the interesting drumming from Keith Ackerman. I love this song. It has a simplistic main riff and when Kosnik sings, he's, well, singing. His style fits the song. He doesn't scream. It's a much better first impression than his style on "Dirty Deeds." The song is developed and is interesting throughout.

"Cold Day in Hell" starts out with Ackerman marking time with the snare before Kosnik and Mundell enter. At the 2:50 mark, Mundell rips into a solo. This is the most satisfying musical piece, perhaps more developed than "Liquor Queen." At the 4:50 mark, the guitar and bass stop and Ackerman plays a pattern that mimics the guitar and bass parts. The guitar and bass re-enter, Mundell plays another solo, riddled with effects.

The remaining songs, "Spit Blood,""Black Trans Am" and "U Want I Should" are more of the same. "Spit Blood" includes some percussion under Mundell's soloing. "Black Trans Am" brings Kosnik full circle, screaming about a car. "U Want I Should" starts out promising, with a quick paced riff that made my daughter in kindergarten start dancing and then grinds to a slower-paced groove.

Overall, these seven songs just didn't sit well with me. I found Mundell's guitar riffs interesting, Ackerman's drumming creative and inspiring, and Kosnik's performance to be a mixed bag. On one hand, he shows that he can sing decently on "Get Your Gear" and on the other, he screams too much on "Dirty Deeds" and Black Trans Am." It is fortunate for our ears that this band focuses on instrumentals. Had there been more of Kosnik…

Rating: B-

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