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Evil Acidhead
In The Name Of All That Is Unholy JR Moores , July 7th, 2015 11:42

A few weeks ago, during a bout of near-terminal writer's block, I made the decision to consume an entire blue cheese and marmite sandwich. That isn't some kind of hip euphemistic drug slang. It was literally a portion of blue cheese placed between two slices of marmite-spreaded bread (wholemeal, if you must know). Even so, ingesting that snack was literally one of the most psychedelic experiences of my entire life. I became acutely aware of individual taste buds I never even knew I had. My head felt like it was expanding and changing shape. Colours became sharper. My tummy unleashed loud, colourful churning sounds. Time seemed to slow down and speed up. I heard music that wasn't really there. And, lo and behold, the words began flowing, my magic-making fingers blurring elegantly over the laptop keys like Joanna Newsom's across harp strings. Alas, eventually, inevitably, an hour or two later the bready trip ended, and I crashed, plunged mercilessly into the depths of the single worst migraine I've suffered since circa 2003. (Just say no, kids.)

Like marmite, blue cheese, William Burroughs' The Soft Machine, the comedian Neil Hamburger or lysergic acid diethylamide, In The Name Of All That Is Unholy is not for everyone. Evil Acidhead is the alter-ego of John McBain, best known for his stints in Monster Magnet and Wellwater Conspiracy. To his eternal credit, McBain was involved in Monster Magnet's most "out there" (and arguably greatest) moment, the sprawling album-length three-track EP Tab. However, the weirdness of Tab's effects-laden Hawkwind-derived stoner rock pales in comparison to McBain's earlier experimentations as Evil Acidhead.

Originally released on cassette back in 1987, In The Name Of All That Is Unholy is an exhaustive 78-minute slab of malevolent avant-acid mayhem constructed from psychosis-inducing lo-fi loops, creepy organ noises, deranged off-road noodling and all manner of anti-social guitar fuzz and screeching feedback. There are no vocals, apart from the brief appearance of a demonically-distorted speaking voice, doubtlessly designed to freak out the listener even further. Nor are there any drums, percussion or rhythm. Basically, it is vaguely reminiscent of some lost Ween demos that Gene and Dean decided not to release because they sounded too upsettingly mushroomed even for their indiscriminate tastes.

The record is, probably, a complete work of genius, chaotically crafted by an artist with not a care in the world for commercial reward or critical appraisal. And it is a work that has to be heard to be believed. There is, admittedly, more going on In The Name Of All That Is Unholy than can be found among the monolithic grooves of Earth's seminal drone masterpiece Earth 2 (which was recorded a few years later, in 1993), yet both records share a potent sense of bleak, hopelessly strung-out, lethargic and darkly humorous nihilism. It would be nice if this reissue succeeded in elevating In The Name Of All That Is Unholy to the same level of "cult classic" that Earth 2 has risen to since the early 90s, with all the praise, respect and influence that comes with it.

They don't make albums like this anymore. If they do, they're hidden somewhere in the darkest spider-webbed corners of Bandcamp where nobody can find them. Whether you find this suffocating work to be a bad trip or a good trip will depend on your tastes, mood, set and setting. I expect even those who rate it would place it more towards the "bad" end of the trip barometer. Most listeners will find the experience more frustrating or baffling than pleasurable, per se, but the sheer audacity of recording, releasing and, indeed, remastering and re-releasing such an uncompromising solo-jam acid-nightmare has simply got to be applauded. It's indulgent, sure, but in a charming and compellingly mashed way (its longest track, a harsh 23-minute reverbed squealathon even possesses the excellent title 'I Control The Moon').

Unless you're truly desperate to have a genuinely terrifying experience, I wouldn't advise spinning Evil Acidhead as the accompaniment to some mind-altering hallucinogenic binge. The sheer sensory overload would be enough to shatter even the sturdiest of minds into a screaming, dribbling basketcase. However, you might just be able to stomach it along with a lump of stilton and the extract of yeast.

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