Holy Black Sabbath Batman! It’s the return of Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children Of The Underground, and goddam if they don’t sound supercharged. Everything about this thirty-something minute EP from the beautifully designed digipack (take a bow Dan Schooler) to the crushing production (Chris West, who not only mixed and mastered the thing but who also plays drums and acoustic guitar) screams of the restlessness and ambition inherent in any truly creative group of individuals and with its molten riffs and skull-crushing percussion ‘Underground’ will melt your face off.
Opening with the title track, the EP does not so much begin as launch itself explosively at your face. The essential elements from the band’s last outing are all present and correct – the mountainous, sludgy guitars reminiscent of Sabbath, Down, Deep purple, and a touch of neurosis for good measure; the lurking bass of Dicky King and the monumental groove of Chris West, but it’s like someone lit a touch paper under this powder keg of explosive metal, because the band sound nitrous fuelled and heavier than hell. ‘Echoes return’ with its harmonies (Pete Holland who also plays guitar, Glockenspiel and, er, digiridoo) and surging riffs is pure old school Sabbath with a touch of Alice in chains slipping into its vocal approach and it cruises on the sort of killer groove that would have had the late lamented Ronnie James Dio dancing around the room in joy. Interestingly, whilst the heavier aspects of the EP rage with an intensity that is mind-blowing, where trippy Wicked really excel is on the unbelievably brilliant ‘enlightenment’ – an epic length psychedelic jam that takes in tool and Carlton Melton on its lengthy, acid fried voyage into the darkest recesses of your brain. Shorn of vocals, the musicians work that much harder on developing a memorable, ever-evolving soundscape to keep the listener glued to their seat and the result is a thrillingly open, near-progressive exploration of Sabbath’s unguarded hinterlands where elemental blues is swapped for an ethereal post-metal sound that reaches far beyond the boundaries of what Trippy Wicked have achieved previously. Another instrumental, ‘discoveries’ segues straight out of its predecessor and continues the musical exploration of sludge metal’s borders. The band sound possessed, as if they are driven by wild forces beyond their control and as the riffs pile on top of one another whilst ethereal solos drift dreamily through the mix you realise you’ve lost some ten minutes of your life with absolutely no idea the time has gone. The song fades out upon a mix of sublime acoustic guitar and delicate glockenspiel. It’s a detail few bands would have thought of, preferring the ease of a computer approximation, and it says much of the band’s attention to detail that they play every note themselves, exactly as you would have it live. The EP finishes with the heavily armoured might of ‘new beginnings’, a sludge-grimed beast that charges from its swamp, enraged and ready for battle. The guitars are mired in vintage fuzz, sounding as if they’re pouring forth from a thousand hot-wired Orange amplifiers, and amidst the wreckage of burnt out Kyuss riffs and doped-up Monster Magnet fuelled insanity, Trippy Wicked stand proudly, pouring forth the wisdom of the universe from their blazing instruments as the cosmos spins and swirls above their heads. It ends perfectly, Pete’s increasingly echo-laden voice intoning ‘we can live as one’ as the music comes to a crushing climax before dissipating like a cloud of herbal smoke leaving you blinking in the sunlight wondering what happened.
Trippy Wicked are the sort of band the world needs. Boldly eschewing digital artifice for the reassuring analogue warmth of a flesh and blood rock band destroying everything in their path in the studio, Trippy Wicked sound like the long lost sons of Black Sabbath, hidden from the prying eyes of the world in a planetarium with only a life-time supply of acid and vintage records to keep them company. The rocket-fuelled mayhem unleashed on ‘underground’ is the result of those spaced-out wanderers emerging from their prison, and cutting loose with all the vigour at their command and the ensuing EP is inspirational. Listening to this record is like plugging yourself into the mains and letting the current flow – you’ll end up blazing with energy as the band’s high voltage rock and roll courses through your veins. Awesome is surely the only word for ‘underground’, prepare to worship at the altar of Trippy Wicked if you don’t already, for this is one hell of an EP from a very special band indeed.
Did we get it right? Don’t guess – check out the title track here: