King Tuff- Black Moon Spell

5/7 stars

Any proponent of heavy weight rock n’ roll will smile upon mention of the name Kyle Thomas. Whether rolling around with stoner-metal outfit Witch (drums provided by Dinosaur Jr. legend J. Mascis) or delving into the scuzz sounds with King Tuff, Thomas never fails to bring the energy vital to the art of rock in any era. With Black Moon Spell, King Tuff returns with his goofball riff heavy rock n’ roll.

While fans of the eponymous 2012 release or 2008’s legendary Was Dead can certainly bank on similar vibes, there are definite signs of expansion throughout Black Moon Spell. In tow with many of their garage rock contemporaries, King Tuff’s production has become more and more solidified with each album. The sonic leap between Was Dead and King Tuff is easily illustrated, simply exemplifying the difference between Kyle Thomas’s self-production and the studio work of producer Bobby Harlow. The band worked Harlow again for Black Moon Spell. Despite this, Black Moon Spell brought a larger and more varied sound, particularly in its use of guitar tone and panning.

The album is an almost non-stop heavy trip, jarring the listener with one guitar scorcher after another starting with the first song and title track, “Black Moon Spell.” Ominous feedback peels the curtain for a monster riff, back by none other than Ty Segall on drums. Icy double vocals mirror the guitar melody during the chorus: “In a black moon spell, baby you’ll be dreamin.’”

Lyrically the album is extremely satisfying, though sometimes easily anticipated. While Kyle Thomas has cultivated a certain perma-teen vibe to his lyrical content, it can sometimes pander into vapidity. Though sex and drugs can admittedly be a standard in rock n’ roll writing, thoughtless phrasing can convey more of a tasteless cheese than a vice indulgence. That being said, there are some killer lyrics on this album, particularly in the tracks “Rainbow’s Run,” “Eyes of the Muse,” “Black Holes in Stereo,” and “Radiation.”

In line with the varied guitar tones and production styles, “Headbanger” is reminiscent of Husker Du’s “Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely” while “Eyes of the Muse” strays gently into the realm of 70’s power pop. Still utilizing heavy tones, Thomas creates a softer soundscape on this song relative to the rest of the album. This was my favorite track on the album upon first listen, though the title track and “Rainbow’s Run” are now fast in the fight.

King Tuff will be on tour until December, though regrettably his only Midwest stops are Detroit and Chicago.