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Albums Of The Week: Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats | Slaughter On First Avenue (Live)

The psychedelic doom merchants do the evil deed to a Minneapolis crowd — twice.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Uncle Acid’s reputation as one of the most devastating and authentically psychedelic live bands on the planet became impossible to dispute, not least when they found themselves supporting the immortal Black Sabbath on 16 dates of their sold-out reunion tour in 2013. Until now, however, the band’s unique and mind-melting live show has never been captured for posterity.

Slaughter On First Avenue, the first official Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats live record, is a furious and righteous document of Kevin Starrs and his henchmen at the height of their unearthly powers. With performances taken from two separate shows at the same venue — First Avenue in Minneapolis — in 2019 and 2022, it’s an 86-minute career retrospective that crackles with malicious intent.

Fourteen songs deep and proudly devoid of gimmicks or distractions, Slaughter On First Avenue is a riveting and raw account of Uncle Acid in full flight. From early classics like I’ll Cut You Down and Death’s Door (both from Blood Lust), to more recent works of lysergic aggro like Shockwave City (from Wasteland) and sinister epic Slow Death (from The Night Creeper), this amalgamation of two fiery and unforgettable live shows has a mesmerising momentum all of its own. As Starrs explains, Slaughter On First Avenue is a purposefully rough-hewn snapshot of two moments in time.

“People have been asking for a live record, and sometimes it’s nice to give people what they want. Especially if you follow it up with something they definitely don’t want! Overall it’s a very raw-sounding recording, and that’s just how it was on the night. There was no specific reason for choosing the first show, other than some guy just turned up and offered to record it, so we let him! It’s a proper live record with all the mistakes kept in.”

As the show-opening announcement warns: “Tonight you will be subjected to an all-out audio assault that will begin here shortly. There will be no respite from this until we release you. The group will show no mercy, and will likely not communicate with you. There will be no dynamics and a complete disregard for expectation. It will all sound the same. Do you understand?”

The greatest bands exist out of necessity and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats fit that description to a cobwebbed T. Led by singer-guitarist Starrs, the Cambridge-born masters of occult doom and psychedelic brutality have carved their own singular furrow since 2009. If they didn’t exist, we would have to invent them.

Defiantly dwelling in their own curious corner of the heaviness spectrum, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats have conjured a series of grimly spellbinding albums, starting with 2010’s Volume 1 debut and its spiky, shadowy successor Blood Lust, which marked the start of the band’s close relationship with Rise Above Records. Critically lauded masterworks Mind Control and The Night Creeper emerged in 2013 and 2015 respectively, and their most recent opus, the bleakly macabre Wasteland, garnered much effusive praise in 2018.

“I think one of our strengths is that most of what we do live is the exact opposite of what’s expected at a rock show,” says Starrs. “There’s no warm chit-chat, no rehearsed anecdotes, no pleasantries, no running around. It’s so dark you can’t see our faces, and sometimes we play with our backs turned. It shouldn’t work, but it does. We just lock into the music and feed off the crowd. Some people still want all that old-time stage banter stuff and want to feel loved, which is fine, but I think a cold relentless hammer attack on the senses works better for a band like us.

“The second show had a few different songs so it made sense to add those in,” he adds. “The first show was better, though. I remember the crowd was pretty wild that night. The second show was more subdued and a bit looser. That was just as gigs started happening again, so I think people were still a bit cautious. Either that or all the wild ones had died!”

A throwback to the days when live albums were magical things, rather than cynical stopgaps, Slaughter On First Avenue is a jolting dose of dark electricity and Psychedelic terror. Swollen with the greatest of riffs and performed with grit, power and haughty disdain, it loudly confirms that Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have the raw, Fuzzed-out power to drag everybody into their bewildering, bewitched vortex of doom. A dazzling, devilish squall to mark the beginning of a new chapter, Slaughter On First Avenue also clears the decks for this band’s next malevolent move. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

“Yes, There will be another record which will hopefully appear at some point without warning or explanation,” Starrs avows. “It will be completely different to anything else we’ve done. You can think of it as a late-night detour. Its appeal will be extremely limited but that’s OK… ‘When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it!’ ”

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