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Anonymous

Tomahawk

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Album Review

As a mad musical genius, Mike Patton continues his wild-eyed adventures of conquering every genre possible with Anonymous. In Fantômas he tackled horror music and cartoon themes, in the Executioners he had a go at hip-hop, in Peeping Tom he deconstructed pop, and in Mr. Bungle he combined doo-wop, funk, Middle Eastern and carnival music to make a wonderful schizophrenic mess. Anonymous maintains his journey into uncharted territory by mixing Tomahawk's unique blend of mathy-doom metal with Native American tribal chants. This blend of drastically differing musical styles could easily result in something that sounds forced or even satirical — especially since one style is centuries older than the other — but instead, the entire experience creates the feel of camping out at a haunted American Indian Reservation. All of the songs are embellished versions of tunes from books of transcribed "Indian songs" published in the early 1900s (with the exception of an instrumental guitar ballad that ties up the album nicely, adapted from an anonymous parlor song.) Patton fans will likely rejoice about the absurdist outcome, though the record is quite a departure from the Tomahawk of old. The group sounds less like a band performing this time around, and this may be partly due to the fact that they recorded separately. After the departure of Kevin Rutmanis (bass), Duane Denison (guitar) and John Stanier (drums) recorded their parts in Nashville, and then sent their finished product to San Francisco where Patton added his vocals and samples. As always, Patton runs amuck and uses this opportunity to show off his unrivaled range and his masterful ability to veer from layered oceans of eerie moans to psychotic barks and crooning modal scales. The result actually feels more like a Fantômas concept performed by Bungle than a third Tomahawk album, and fans may be disappointed that it doesn't sound like their last two releases, where they distinctively rode the line between savage and brooding within the constraints of heavy metal. The ominous element is present, but the dynamic shifts drastically into a more atmospheric new age realm scattered with a few chaotic explosions here and there for good measure. It feels more like a soundtrack than an album, where pieces vary from eerie, to unnerving, to mystical. Although this is a unified record that should be experienced from start to finish, individual songs have slight and interesting variations to keep the experience from becoming stale. For instance, "Antelope Ceremony" has jazzy-prog movements like something out of Zappa's Apostrophe period, and "Sun Dance" integrates four bars of thunderous punk into an otherwise tranquil desert soundscape. There's a good chance this departure from their formula will appeal more to people who want to pick up where California left off on "Goodbye Sober Day" than fans of Helmet or Jesus Lizard. But considering that the band is playing in a completely new style, and incorporating traditional Native American instruments (rain sticks, flutes, buckskin drums) this is undeniably a stunning musical exploration — and as far as original artistic endeavors go, this ranks among Patton and company's most ambitious endeavors. The only question left is whether or not the guys knew they were capable of creating this type of music when they originally named the band.

Customer Reviews

Only Band That Could've Done This

Being of Native American origin as well as a Tomahawk fan, I find this treatment of the music very respectfully handled. The effort that had to go into this is evident. If any other artist had tried to pull off something like this, it would have been ridiculous.

The Real Star Here Is....

Duane Denison! You Fools! Don't get me wrong, I dig Mike Patton, but Duane was THE influence for this release. Duane Denison is one of the greatest guitarists of our time. Let us not forget this.

Fresh, original, brilliant.

This album is Tomahawk meets Fantomas doing Native American covers. The music here avoids all clichés of world music mixed with rock. If Tomahawk could jam on an Indian reservation with Native American's centuries ago this is what it would sound like. There aren't any pop (for lack of a better word) songs on here like typical Tomahawk albums but it's easier to listen to than a lot of Fantomas. One thing I noticed is the mixing is a little raw. There are some amazing rhythms here, but the mixing doesn't bring them out like it should. The vocals are also too quiet in some sections. There is so much going on in these tracks that a better mixing job would have helped. I looked at the credits and was surprised to see Mike Patton mixed the album. Even though he isn't a pro mixer it still sounds quite good and I'm very impressed to see Mike wear yet another hat. If every musician followed Mike's example and pushed themselves musically on every level (genre, vocal style, etc.) the world would be a much more interesting place. This sounds fresh, original, and has moments of brilliance. It will be on my list as one of the best albums for 2007.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Mike Patton must laugh at rock bands that take extended periods between albums and complain of time restraints. Since the dissolution of Faith No More in 1998, Patton worked like a man possessed — unleashing a steady stream of releases by the numerous groups he fronts — among them Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, and Tomahawk (not to mention that he founded his own label, Ipecac). Joining Patton in Tomahawk is a star-studded cast that includes former Jesus Lizard/Hank Williams III guitarist Duane...
Full Bio
Anonymous, Tomahawk
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Customer Ratings

Contemporaries

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