My shying away from a lot of modern metal doesn’t mean I’m shying say from modern (or more accurately, current) rock. All Them Witches was a revelation to me back in 2016 when I discovered their Lightning at the Door album through some mutual friends. Over the years the band has expanded and contracted, moving in subtle directions where the emphasis can fall on multiple genres – some more successfully than others. Trimmed down to a trio, Nothing as the Ideal locks everything into place, creating am monster of a rock album that feel simultaneously timeless and of every time. It’s a banger, in other words.
I pretty much said what I wanted to about Nothing as the Ideal when I wrote the album up as part of my Best of 2020 list for Nine Circles, so rather than strive for some more words I’ll kindly just rip myself off and post my caption here:
The opening riff on “Saturnine & Iron Jaw” just makes the latest from All Them Witches heavy enough for me to include on this list. The immediate parallel I had when first listening to Nothing as the Ideal was Lo-Pan if they time travelled back to the early 70s. Psychedelia, blues, doom, and just kick ass rock and roll with an emphasis on the “rock” – meaning reverb drenched solos, great harmonies in the vocals, and a wicked lock-step between bass and drums. My love for this groove-infested rock should not come as a surprise when past EOY lists had bands like Earthless and Biblical in the top spots, but what brings all these groups to my (ostensibly) metal end of year list year after year is their ability to be heavy without being extreme. There’s some great syncopation in the drive of “Enemy of My Enemy,” some massive low end throbbing in “See Ya Next Fall,” and beautiful layers upon layers of guitar throughout Nothing as the Ideal. It’s what my ears craved in 2020 the most, I think.
The sense of space, the feeling that the guitars, drenched in reverb, are trying to find their way through the darkness on a mournful interlude like “Everest” – this is really everything I want in music right now. I’ve been playing with equalizers and different setups for my stereo equipment, and listening to this through my new-ish Grado RS2e headphones it feels like you’re inside the music. And really, there’s no place I’d rather be.
Bonus Vinyl Nonsense: Nothing as the Ideal came out in September 2020, but I only just received my vinyl copy. Why? Because I held out for the special Bandcamp Exclusive Edition, which was cut at 45rpm. limited to 1,000 numbered copies (I have 367) and came in this mesmerizing Lysergic Purple: