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Ten years is longer than a lot of bands’ lifespans, and to sit out a decade between albums, well… that doesn’t always work out for the best. It only takes one spin of Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere to hear that Bay Area psychedelic overlords, Acid King picked up where they left off with 2005’s magnificent III. They’re not a prolific band – two EPs and four full-lengths in 20+ years – but in this case that means not a note has been wasted. All killer, no filler.

To paraphrase our esteemed founder Cosmo Lee, if there is a hell its soundtrack is nothing but intros and outros. I know I’m not the only one that has deleted countless throwaway instrumental tracks from otherwise excellent albums. Exceptions exist, of course, and one can be found here. The “Intro” to Middle isn’t some useless 30-second track; it eases the album open with a whirlpool of riffs that are immediately recognizable as an Acid King jam. It stands on its own as a fully formed song and provides a seamless transition to “Silent Pictures,” a grand, sweeping 9-minute swath of psychedelic heaviness. (It provides the same effect in reverse as the coda of “Outro”.)

The band taps into the same power trio vein as Rush and Cream before them, where the sheer strength and huge sound created betrays the fact that only three people are making it. Lori S., a woman in metal long before Women In Metal™, reclaims her established place in the wake of an increasing amount of psych/doom femme fatales. Her inimitable smoky vocals float atop guitar lines gifted from the desert riff gods, simple but not simplistic, genius in their hooks. “Laser Headlights” rises and falls like a sand dune heartbeat, heavy as hell yet oddly fluid in its movement. Drummer Joey Osbourne, the other Acid King lifer, is Ginger Baker-like in his habit of never quite playing any fill the same way twice. It keeps longer tracks like “Red River” and “Center Of Everywhere” from losing the plot, a trap plenty of lesser bands in the genre fall into constantly. Bringing back producer/wizard Billy Anderson, who has recorded all of their releases to date, probably didn’t hurt Acid King’s vibe either.

Calling Middle “more of the same” sounds like faint praise, but considering the band’s track record it’s actually much more. They have maintained their signature sound with songs that stack up alongside anything in their back catalog, and the tenth spin is just as enjoyable as the first.

—Chris Rowella

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Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere Is available now from Svart Records. Follow Acid King on Facebook.

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