Tomahawk’s 2001 self-titled debut album may just as well have been the pinnacle of Mike Patton’s career. It aptly blends his predilection for avant-garde weirdness within the standard four-piece rock outfit. The band has a reputation for being nonconforming to traditional song structure and time signatures. I’ve seen two different Mike Patton bands get booed off the stage while opening for Tool, and Tomahawk was one of them (Fantamos the other).
Tomahawk is Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas) on vocals, Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard) on guitar, John Stanier (Helmet, Battles) on drums, and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantomas), the latest addition to the current lineup, on bass. It was being reported from various sources that the new album, their first release in six years, was going to be more of a straight-forward rock record. The news had die-hard fans a bit worried and prepared for a letdown. Now that Oddfellows is finally here, let’s just set the record straight. It’s the farthest thing from a straightforward rock record and fits perfectly within the experimental Tomahawk catalog. Opening track, the self-titled “Oddfellows,” may be one of the band’s best tracks to date. It’s anchored by Denison’s brilliance on guitar. His fuzzy guitar melody isn’t complex, but it will be the overwhelming reason for repeated listens. He only plays four chords during the song’s breakdown, but they are filthy and masterfully distorted.
Unlike his main band (Battles), John Stanier isn’t the focal point here, but his unique style has long been the glue. Tomahawk would not sound the same without him. Patton, on the other hand, doesn’t play in bands where he’s not the focal point. Leagues of haters are waiting for him to take a misstep, and they’ll have to keep waiting. Patton’s vocals are as pitchperfect and eclectic as ever. From his Faith No More-esqe crooning on “I.O.U.” to his other-worldly screaming on “The Quiet Few” to the diverse and ominous vocal styles on standout track “Choke Neck,” no modern day vocalist can match his range. The album may not be as unique and original as the band’s self-titled debut, but we welcome back Tomahawk with open arms. The record will certainly end up on our list of favorite albums for 2013. Listen to the album in its entirety below via Spotify.