By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Back in the day, James Brown was dubbed “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” The man was relentless with his tour schedule and perfecting his music. If anyone could take that title today, I would have to give it to Mike Patton. The frontman known for having a voice range of six octaves is involved so many projects that keep busy year round. From Faith No More to Fantômas, Mr. Bungle, Dead Cross, and Peeping Tom to name a few, it astounds me how much energy this person has. It is a juggling routine for Patton, but he somehow pulls it off. Last year, he put out Mr. Bungle’s first album in over 2 decades, and now he has reformed his other supergroup, Tomahawk. It has been 8 years since the alternative metal outfit release Oddfellows, only to now bring us Tonic Immobility. Released under Patton’s record label, Ipecac Recordings, let us listen in as Tomahawk ensues more much needed chaos.
Tonic Immobility starts with “SHHH!” Guitarist Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard) plucks a whimsical lick as Patton speaks in a sinister voice. 40 seconds in, a rock explosion occurs as Denison lays in crunchy riffs. Drummer John Stanier (Helmet) keeps his cool during the verses then detonates with a bang. “Valentine Shine” is a more straightforward alternative metal number. Bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle) is dynamite of the beat, while Denison whips out an eclectic solo. Patton goes into an up-tempo rage fest on the mic. He is a happy little valentine with a temper. “Predators and Scavengers” has a spectacular mixture of alternative, avant-garde jazz, and progressive metal. Dunn and Stanier moves the rhythm along in a steady motion as Denison goes full blown jazz on the guitar licks. The music had a mind of its own. “Doomsday Fatigue” has a Spaghetti Western vibe intertwined with dark overtones suitable for Vincent Price films. I dug Patton’s voice as he journeys to the dark side of COVID-19 fatigue. It effectively goes along pleasantly with Dunn’s evocative bass notes. Very intriguingly eerie.
“Business Casual” has Tomahawk return to the eclectic alternative metal side. This is probably my favorite bass line Dunn conjures up. Patton drummed up some clever lyrics about body image and fitness. It would be funny to hear this tune while working up a sweat. There is an atmospheric change with “Tattoo Zero.” It is very sludgy and progressive with a big helping of hardcore. Denison gets precise and hypnotic with his guitar playing as Patton goes back and forth with his melodic vocals and mischievous. We are halfway through the album as we approach “Fatback.” The screeching, insane guitar riffs Denison is concocting is intense. It contradicts with Dunn’s funky, spacey bass playing is a good way. The samples Patton was putting out helps put the listener into a dream-like trance. “Howlie” is a pure ‘dream-gazing’ acid journey. It is like the Deftones and Helmet mated to create a mesmerizing number. Patton puts his octave ranges to the task, as he can be gentle during the verses. However, once he reaches the chorus and bridge that is when chaos begins.
“Eureka” continues the space odyssey Tonic Immobility is taking us on. The shortest track at 2:03, haunting ambient noises fill the airwaves. Whenever Patton wants to create something more bizarre, he puts his mind to it on this song. “Sidewinder” is doom soaked that is sprinkled with dream pop and avant-garde metal. Denison switches between keyboards and guitar as his composition takes us out onto a stroll of the unknown. Dunn and Stanier bring so jazz melody into the mix to make the journey even more pleasurable. “Recoil” has the alternative swagger a lot of old-school Tomahawk and Fantômas fans will dig. Hip melodies with a modern sound, Denison channels his inner Josh Klinghoffer to capture the enriching beat I loved to hear. This is a great tune. We are ending the peculiar journey with “Dog Eat Dog.” They definitely saved the best for last. The lyrics are humorous as Patton continually chants ‘Eat doggie, eat doggie.” The razor sharp riffs and bombastic bass lick supports this song’s aim at the pleasure dome of any metalhead out there.
Patton is a creative, genius force in the music world. It amazes me that I have never heard of Tomahawk until now. Tonic Immobility will take your mind places you never ventured to. Co-produced by Paul Allen, this album is proper for the mainstream as well as the underground scene of alternative metal. With this album in the can, who knows what Patton will be working on next. Maybe some new Faith No More? Until then, they are Tomahawk, and they approve this message. To Tomahawk, I salute you. Horns up!!!
02. ‘Valentine Shine’
03. ‘Predators And Scavengers’
04. ‘Doomsday Fatigue’
05. ‘Business Casual’
06. ‘Tattoo Zero’
12. ‘Dog Eat Dog’
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