We have another new album from one of the most prolific rock bands active today. The third in an already impressive set of 2020 releases. Thee Oh Sees (aka OCS, Osees, and the many other monikers for John Dwyer’s project) are back only a few months after the release of Protean Threat with Metamorphosed, a compilation of tracks that were produced during the same sessions that resulted in 2019’s Face Stabber and The 12″ Synth. This lends to the weird pacing of this album, which consists of three quick-fire fuzzy garage tracks followed by two sprawling Krautrock odysseys. A bit of both from the two aforementioned 2019 releases.
From that alone it may be easy to dismiss this record as a collection of throwaways haphazardly stitched together just to get more records out there, but that is far from the truth. Metamorphosed stands well on its own, and although it seems like an oddity, the ability to craft something odd and make it work brilliantly is a staple of Thee Oh Sees. In isolation, each track stands strong among its contemporaries. As a whole it is a testament to the band’s evolution and versatility.
The album opens with the first blitzkrieg attack in “Saigant”. Wailing guitars, grueling drum tempo and raspy lyrics dominate this track with an energy that can make you feel drenched in sweat despite its a minute and a half runtime. The only downside is that it leaves you wanting for more.
“Electric War” follows with fuel-guzzling intent and stabbing vocals. The band channels post punk with industrial-themed lyrics that gives it a tyrannical aesthetic. “Weird and Wasted Connection” is held by a groovy main riff and subtle, whispered vocals with great harmonies and a dazzling guitar solo in the end.
The second half of the album dwarfs the first three tracks by a wide margin. “The Virologist” is a 14-minute meditative ride with swirling guitar effects that paints a kaleidoscopic psych imagery. It ends with a bluesy guitar solo that summons Hendrix and Roy Gallagher from the path of nirvana.
The finale “I Got a Lot” is urgent in the same way its predecessor is serene. It features rumbling percussion and a somewhat crazed persona on the vocals that repeats: “I got a lot on my mind” over and over. Although it sounds hectic at first, once you get into it, it becomes into this awesome tribal groove.
2020 has been a storm for most of us, but seeing Thee Oh Sees deliver quality along with quantity is nothing short of a blessing and an inspiration.