The Atomic Bitchwax – The Local Fuzz

January 01, 1970

(Tee Pee)


When the Atomic Bitchwax first emerged from the wilds of the
New Jersey stoner rock scene, the power trio concentrated on flowing, sometimes
frenzied psych/hard rock jamming – a perfect showcase for guitarist Ed
Mundell’s talents. But Mundell eventually left to concentrate on his day job
with Monster Magnet, and was replaced by ex-Core leader Finn Ryan – a skilled,
exciting axeman, but also a fine singer and songwriter. Ryan’s arrival either
instigated or coincided with a decision by band mastermind Chris Koznik to move
TAB in a more concise direction, giving melody and song structure pride of
place without stinting on the acid rock power. The result was the
unimaginatively titled but excellent 3 and 4, probably the best records in
the band’s catalog.


On The Local Fuzz,
however, the Bitchwax returns to its roots, laying down the jams, with one
important difference: the title track is also the only track. Nearly 43 minutes
of single-minded psilocybin-drenched heavy rock riffola is lot to ask the
average listener to swallow, even aficionados of this particular brand of the
devil’s music. But TAB pulls it off. Though lengthy, the piece is tightly
arranged – this is not unstructured jamming. Riffs rule the roost here, not
solos – while there are plenty of the latter, they’re not the main focus. Also,
the band’s recent interest in melody carries over, with carefully-wrought
tuneage woven into the instrumental interplay. Ryan, Koznik and drummer Bob
Pantella’s performances come across more like interlocking pieces of a puzzle
than simultaneous blowing, with each variation taken only as far as it can go
and no further. Outside of the concept itself, there’s no showboating – the
players sublimate themselves to the good of the song, regardless of length. Few
rock acts could get away with this, but with The Local Fuzz, the Atomic Bitchwax proves itself one of the elite.




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