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Tomahawk- Oddfellows (Album Review)

On 2013’s Oddfellows, Tomahawk abandoned the Native American concept taken on Anonymous, choosing instead to mine the hard-edged, riff-heavy metal of their 2001 breakout. Tomahawk has always found humor in the fact that their sound probably won’t land them on the mainstream charts anytime soon, as the screeching lyric from their first album “This beat might win me a Grammy!” will tell you, but cuts like “White Hats/Black Hats,” “Warratorium,” and “South Paw” show a willingness to write a memorable song within the perimeters of pop, dunk it in the evil depths of metal sludge, and keep it from floating too far into the deep end. Mike Patton continues to amaze as one of today’s most versatile vocalists, cycling through his many styles, and turning on a dime from a menacing baritone to belting it out to asking seductively, “What’s that the thing on your lip? You got some shit hanging off your lip.” In other words, classic Patton. His old running mate, bassist Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle, is a perfect addition, and has given the band the kick in the pants they needed to get back on the rails after the departure of the Melvins’ Kevin Rutmanis. Instead of working separately as they did on the great, but polarizing departure Anonymous, guitarist Duane Denison (the Jesus Lizard, Unsemble) and drummer John Stanier (Helmet, Battles), et al recorded in a live room in a proper Nashville studio to capture their chemistry; a wise move when you have a supergroup capable of locking in on such impressively heavy grooves. This may be a flashback to the sound of a decade prior, but after getting so far away from their metal roots, most fans will agree that this balance of creepy ambience and pummeling riffs is a welcome return to form.