Akimbo Navigating the Bronze

[Alternative Tentacles; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: metallic punk, pugnacious metal
Others: Mastodon, Wolfmother, Dillinger Escape Plan

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. Confession: I don’t know my ass from my elbow when it comes to metal. But I do know that when the elbows bow outward with hands on hips you’ve got your arms "akimbo." Sort of a cowboy stance. Apropos, I’ll be critiquing this, Akimbo’s fifth album, Navigating the Bronze, like Dubya -- that is, from the gut. Saddle up, dissenting citizens.

Sometimes press one-sheets get it right. Whoever wrote Akimbo’s isn't blubbering bologna when s/he says the songs are “carved [on an] anvil.” It indeed sounds as though there was a lot of barnyard banging happening somewhere in backwoods Kentucky. And in comparing a certain instrument to a “battle axe,” the anonymous publicity staff author is again correct. Medieval weaponry always makes an impression, especially with the heavy (be it -metal, -petting, or -handed) crowd. Throw on some studded leather jackets and grow grizzly beards down to your (man)boobs, and you’d be totally out of my territory.

Rhythm partners Jon Weisnewski (bass) and Nat Damm (drums) have welcomed Aaron Walters into the donnybrook, a guitarist who can shred, sprinkle, or steady a song. His versatility fits in well with a band that at one moment seems stable and at the next volatile. Weisnewski’s vocals are what you’d expect — harsh beyond recognition, shouting one-word epithets as lyrics (“Sin/ Germs/ Blood/ Filth/ Fire/ Guns”). It’s a wonder he hasn’t developed throat nodules or polyps yet. At his softest, he’s Cobain on “Scentless Apprentice.” Meanwhile, Damm gets his own gosh-darn solo track. “Roman Coins” utilizes the double kick drum so much that its thud eventually muddles and sounds like the word throttle repeated over and over at top-speed by the Micro Machines Man. It’s drums galore.

Navigating the Bronze's closer is an epic track called “Stjernaborg,” so-named (slightly incorrectly) after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe’s underground observatory. Perhaps the band admires Brahe's drive for accuracy, or maybe they’re just tickled at the fact a portion of his nose was plucked off by a rapier during a drunken duel. Or maybe they were tickled by his pet moose. In either case, the song features plenty of dynamic variation, but I find it especially respectable that the quieter moments echo Link Wray’s “Rumble.”

Akimbo is a trio of good ol' talented boys. They’ve taught me tons. Thank you much, Akimbo. I feel all learned now.

Most Read