With an album cover featuring a Druid (or the Grim Reaper?) with his arms shooting flames in the “Our Father” position while towering over the Pyramids of Egypt, one can’t help but expect some righteous doom-like sludge when one bloodies their hands on this Seattle band’s latest assault charge. Like many classic (as well as shitty) metal bands, Akimbo can be enjoyable even before the first listen. With the aforementioned album art and song titles like “Ground Control to Major Bummer” and “Spooning with Disaster”, Forging Steel and Laying Stone is already worth the price of admission.
But what about the sound, man? Well “dude,” if Rage Against the Machine and Black Sabbath ever formed a hardcore band fronted by Corey Taylor from Slipknot stuck on “Heavy Chorus” mode, they would probably be slammed for ripping off Akimbo; let’s just hope that never happens. Though there is absolutely no variation in vocalist/bassist Jon Weisnewski’s blood-vomiting scream, he can be forgiven. He’s preoccupied with desperately trying to keep the band from blowing apart with his forceful bass playing driving the all-too-brief songs forward. The bass really shines at the end of “Digging a Hole,” where the band cuts out, leaving only a slow, oppressive bass that is eventually picked up by everyone and carried all the way to hell on a wave of messy leads.
Guitarists Jared Burke Eglington and recent addition Patrick Cunningham shine throughout the album with a funky looseness reminiscent of Neil Young & Crazy Horse on amphetamines. For proof, check out the mind boggling, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it riff midway through the slash and burn violence of “Tina, Bring Me the Axe.” Drummer Nat Damm may be the real money of the band, with his non-stop barrage of hip-shaking beats sliding into freak-out fills and back again without missing a beat.
Forging Steel and Laying Stone is an economical neck workout at 39 headbangin’ minutes. With enough variety and sonic change-ups, it leaves you satisfied and never feeling bloated. Not to mention the occasional passage that sounds like a hardcore version of the soundtrack to Nintendo’s Double Dragon II. And isn’t that all that the kids are asking for? So, in the words of the immortal Akimbo, “sharpen the swords, polish the armour, it’s feeding time.”