As is the case with many supergroups, Tomahawk come with a remarkable pedigree. Comprising Faith No More frontman Mike Patton, Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison, Mr Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn, and Battles drummer John Stanier, they’ve been functioning as a side project for these accomplished musicians for over 20 years now. ‘Tonic Immobility’ is their fifth full-length album, their first since ‘Oddfellows’ (2013). It might not be one of the greatest albums to be released this year, but it’s still a very fun one, both for the listener and (ostensibly) the performer.
Opener ‘SHHH’ sets the tone for proceedings well, with the melodic interplay between Denison’s guitars and Dunn’s working so well that it’s a surprise to learn the band recorded their parts in separate locations. Indeed, the album in general sounds like it’s been made by a bunch of people who are all having a lot of fun playing and recording together.
There’s a great punky energy to songs like ‘Tattoo Zero’, ‘Recoil’, and ‘Predators and Scavengers’ that got me nodding my head along, and Dunn handles fluctuating rhythms on his bass adroitly on ‘Business Casual’ and ‘Fatback’. Patton delivers what fans of his bands have come to expect from his vocal stylings over the majority of the album, singing aggressively on ‘Valentine Shine’ and ‘Sidewinder’ and shrilly towards the end of ‘Howlie’.
‘Dog Eat Dog’ makes for a good choice of closing track as it has this nagging, infectious chorus that stays in your head for several minutes after ‘Tonic Immobility’ has finished. The album’s two major weak spots are ‘Doomsday Fatigue’ and ‘Eureka’, as they’re both quite slow and boring.
Overall, though, whilst it won’t be troubling my year-end list, this is an immensely listenable addition to Tomahawk’s body of work. It’s mostly brisk and up-tempo and improves upon the frequently undisciplined ‘Oddfellows’. If you like Faith No More, Mr Bungle, Peeping Tom, Fantomas, Melvins, Cows, The Jesus Lizard, Battles, and/or Helmet, you should definitely check it out. ‘Tonic Immobility’ is released via Ipecac on March 26th. Pre-order it here.