UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS “Slaughter On First Avenue”

Written by Album Review, Chronique, Uncategorized

In the occult rock scene, some are driven solely by the pompous (Ghost, just to name one), while others take a completely different approach and delve so uncompromisingly into their art that it becomes cult. Hailing from the British underground, the audacious and inimitable Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats are part of the second category. Since 2009, they’ve been striving to deliver a macabre and psychedelic version of early 70s proto-metal, to the point where they’ve become a respectable yet intimidating benchmark for psychedelic doom.

The feat of Kevin Starrs aka Uncle Acid, was to create an entirely new sonic realm with familiar ingredients drawn from the gloomy, horrific facet of pop culture. Just like Sabbath before them, who wrote sinister songs in response to horror movies of their time, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats plunge us into a surreal world of ritual daggers, witches, black masses and torture (“Blood Lust”), messianic neuroticism (“Mind Control”), maniacal bloodthirsty murder (“The Night Creeper”) and Orwellian dystopia (“Wasteland”). These heroes of darkness have consolidated their reputation thanks to numerous tours across the USA, Europe and Australia, culminating in a 16-date support tour for Black Sabbath’s return in 2013.

Yet no recording of their live performances had ever been released, and “Slaughter on First Avenue” fills this gap in their discography in a rather unusual way by combining sets the band played at First Avenue in Minneapolis over two distinct periods, including one show from 2019 and another from 2022. An unsettling strategy, yet one that Kevin Starrs believes allowed them to get the most out of their repertoire. Against all odds, this assemblage doesn’t harm spontaneity, since no rough edges seem to have been erased. Feedbacks can be heard throughout just as their exhilarated audience, and their fiery sound was in no way smoothed out. And as soon as the retro-futuristic introduction speech is over, the first riffs of “I See Through You” comfort us, as the guitars make the air thicker while Uncle Acid’s high-pitched vocals remind us just how much his music is an incandescent fusion of Black Sabbath and the Beatles.

Another comforting point: the tracklist follows closely both shows’ setlists. And God knows how important the dynamics of a live show can be, between bubbling guitar magma, relative but mournful lulls and climaxes in the form of an eruption of sharp solos (the finale of “Slow Death” is worth its weight in black diamonds). Every track feels right, from the hard-hitting psych-rock anthems like “Shockwave City” and “Crystal Spiders”, to the bewitching “Pusher Man” and the viscous eight minutes of “No Return”.

Like this dark artwork smeared with a blood-red haze, the sound perfectly captures Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats’ black mass. When the darkness gets even darker and the twilight fog freezes your spine, “Slaughter On First Avenue” is a furious but fair document of all this band’s malevolent forces. This live album is a tense greatest hits wrapping up a decade of music, from “Blood Lust” to their latest offering “Wasteland”. Rest assured, closure here is synonymous with renewal. In fact, Kevin Starrs stated that the band was working on new material, which “will appear at some point without warning or explanation”, asserting that it will be completely different from what the band has done before.


I See Through You
Waiting for Blood
Death’s Door

Shockwave City
Thirteen Candles
Dead Eyes of London
Pusher Man

Ritual Knife
Slow Death
Crystal Spiders

Blood Runner
Desert Ceremony
I’ll Cut You Down
No Return

“Slaughter On First Avenue” is out now on Rise Above Records – Find Uncle Acid on their website.

Last modified: 12 September 2023