Reviews Tomahawk Anonymous

Tomahawk

Anonymous

When Hank III goes on tour, he leaves no stone unturned, playing anywhere that would have him: cities, towns, hamlets, burgs and more than a few Native American reservations. This had quite an impact on Hank's then touring guitarist, ex of the Jesus Lizard and future Tomahawk co-founder Duane Denison. The music he would hear while on the reservations left an impression as well – he didn't like the way it was performed. Finding the music too conventional, Denison began to research the culture and the music and came across a book of traditional songs from the early 20th century. Anonymous is Tomahawk's interpretation of the songs he had found.

Ambitious to say the least. Since Faith No More called it a day, Tomahawk had become the last bastion of accessibility for fickle Mike Patton “fans” that were too scared to listen to Fantômas, too impatient for his work with John Zorn, and too bitter following the dissolution of Mr. Bungle. Anonymous leaves those preconceived notions of the band twisting in the wind. Surprisingly unpredictable and different from their previous albums, what we have is an album of reverent and faithful renditions of traditional aboriginal songs performed by a trio of musicians at the top of their game. I say trio, as this is the band's first recording without bassist Kevin Rutmanis, with all bass duties performed by Denison.

The album overall comes across as some something you would come to expect from Patton's Fantômas, not Tomahawk. While interpreting faithful renditions, this negates the contemporary song structures found in their previous work thus proving that Denison can push the musical envelope just as well as his counterpart. From songs ranging from “War Song”, “Omaha Dance,” “Mescal Rite 1” and “Mescal Rite 2,” the band ventures into waters previously uncharted by Denison, Patton and drummer John Stainer. Helping to build the atmosphere is an increase in samples and electronic devices creating an ambient backdrop of emotion, sustaining a believability of the band's agenda. Naysayers have already dismissed the album as if it were trying to accomplish nothing more than taking the piss out of the indigenous people it valiantly tries to serve with integrity. Those familiar with Patton's work know that although he can have the air of a seasoned embittered cynic in interviews, the man will not associate himself with anything he doesn't fully believe in. In this case supplying the vocals in true Patton fashion – unrelenting and 100% committed with a wide range of emotion at times reminiscent of his work with John Erik Kaada.

If this review has you scared and/or saddened that it might be a complete 180 from the band's previous work, chin up my little buckaroos. There's still plenty of signature guitar work that'll leave no doubt in your mind as to who you're listening to. Don't believe me? “Sun Dance” and “Totem” alone will make you glad you made the purchase. Overall it's a damn good album but the pessimist in me says that this album won't be as heavy in the rotation for the average listener as say, Mit Gas, the band's previous effort. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - Mit Gas was a very good album, but if you don't give Anonymous a chance you'll be missing out a band that's just kicked open the doors to a whole new realm of ideas and inspiration leaving the possibilities of all future albums to have no limits. Remember - preconceptions are for those afraid to be challenged.

8.0 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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Ipecac

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