Wasteland surrounds you as your motorcycle powers through the desert. Cacti raise needle-ridged arms to the dying sunlight, moribund addicts seeking salvation from waning light. An oasis appears on the horizon, containing what your thirsty body needs: FOX 45’s Ashes of Man.
My first impression was checking out the song names and seeing the outstanding portmanteaus. I’m a big fan of those and titles like Doominati, Coup d’Étwat, Narcissister and Murdercycle definitely made me chuckle. Musically, the sound is sludgy chord progressions rumbling and bouncing through the album in an almost punky way. The threesome vocal harmony of guitarists Pauline Cole and Vicky Tee, and bassist Amanda Rampe are as spherical and haunting as specters. Casey Learch’s practical yet lumbering beats offer the last hope for balance in this crumbling landscape.
Despite the comical song titles, the music retains dark overtones. Doominati draws you in immediately with its hooky riff and the opening wails, “The sky has opened, everything is dead / I watch your god cry as he hangs his head” setting the precedence for the rest of the album, specifically Necromancing the Stone which I believe is about reviving a dead lover, White Lightning where the title comes from, Soul Gourmandizer asking if you’re a god or beast, and Snake Oil which leads you through a bong-smoked graveyard. The album closes with Murdercycle, a strange story that includes the lyrics “This ain’t my first dildo rodeo” and “I got so fuckin’ high I ate a pie.” And yet because of the song titles, it doesn’t come as too farfetched a song (and I personally love thinly veiled innuendo). The hidden track Urinal Acid is a solid return to form.
So if you find yourself riding through desolation, the sky on fire behind mountains black as coal, stop a while. Admire and take part in the beauty, knowing you can never truly take it with you.