Feral Ohms by Feral OhmsRelease date: March 31, 2017
Label: Silver Current Records
They say a change is as good as a rest and you can believe Californian underground rock stalwart Ethan Miller swears by it. Previously the driving force behind a host of vital bands including Comets on Fire, Howlin’ Rain and Heron Oblivion, Miller has now teamed up with drummer Chris Johnson (Drunk Horse/Andy Human) and bassist Josh Haynes (Nudity) in Feral Ohms to produce his most vicious and indeed ‘feral’ sounds to date.
The last time we heard from him was as part of the aforementioned Heron Oblivion, purveyors of poised, gothic folk rock, a seemingly mature move away from the psych guitar wig-outtery of Comets and the Southern-fried Deadhead grooves of Howlin’ Rain (a personal favourite).
It sounds like Miller has violently reacted against any notions of his music getting softer by going bat-shit crazy with an album whose sound is best described as The MC5 on steroids. From the cover art of a baboon, notorious for their unpredictable savagery to the press shot of Miller looking like a deranged mountain man, everything about this release suggests a man determined to bust his amps and scream his lungs out right in your fucking face. To be honest, in the wrong mood, it can be a little wearing – there is barely a moments respite from the bruising opener ‘Love Damage’ thru the following 26 minutes.
The last two tracks ‘Sweetbreads’ and the excellent ‘The Glow’ do drop the pace a tad and have a ghost of the swinging swashbuckle of old, but it is still swathed in fuzz and squirming guitars. I dont know who produced this album, but surely their only job was to turn the tapes on, as this is as close to a live album as you’ll hear, in fact it sounds more live than a lot of our favourite classic live albums!
Highlights? Well, if you love one it’s fair to assume you’ll love them all, but apart from that bruising opener and ‘The Glow’, ‘Value On The Street’ and ‘Early Man’ both really perfect that MC5 swagger, with added supercharged thrash, that are over predictably fast in a squall of feedback, having stolen your beer and kicked you in the balls.
Twenty six minutes of utterly committed, intense, gonzoid thrashing, Feral Ohms is like a grungier Reign In Blood. You may consider that a recommendation.