Album Review: Tomahawk - Tonic Immobility

25 March 2021 | 9:30 am | Chris Familton

"They keep things tight and defiantly rock"

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Twenty years on from their debut and seven years since their last release of new material, ladies and gentlemen it's the welcome return of Tomahawk with their fifth album. They need no introduction, but it’s essential that their collective pedigree is mentioned. Featuring guitarist Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard), vocalist Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas), drummer John Stanier (Helmet, Battles), and bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas), they're a veritable modern rock supergroup.

Tonic Immobility is a record that represents the strengths that all four members bring to the table, particularly Denison’s artful slabs and shards of metallic post-hardcore guitar and Patton’s infinitely inventive screams, melodies and lyrical deviance – balancing and conveying both humour and unsettling terror.

Across their albums they’ve splintered off into all manner of sonic micro diversions, but here they keep things tight and defiantly rock. The anchor of the rhythm section writhes and stomps in perfect unison. On Sidewinder they flip from smooth noir to Medusa-like knottiness in a nanosecond, while on album highlight Business Casual they hit with mechanical precision beneath Denison’s staccato verse and slashing chorus, before Tattoo Zero hits like a demonic pinball game. Both Predators And Scavengers and Fatback display a tension and physicality that could go toe-to-toe with peak Soundgarden.

Brutality and nuance are the twin totems on this latest offering from Tomahawk – and they deliver both with renewed spirit and swagger.