Force Form Free is the newest album from the long-running psych masters Dead Meadow, and was released December 9th, 2022. Their Bandcamp profile tells us that they …
“Formed in the fall of 1998, Dead Meadow emerged from the Washington, D.C. indie/punk scene to fuse their love of early ’70s hard rock and ’60s psychedelics into a unique marriage of dreamy guitar-fuzz bliss and stoney riffs. Over the course of seven studio albums, three live records and a Peel Session, they incorporated darker eastern influences and increasingly dense and hypnotic layering as they toured such far-reaching places as Russia and Australia and performed at renowned festivals including Roadburn and Levitation fest. They’ve become an inarguable pillar of the modern heavy psych movement alongside contemporaries like Black Mountain, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and the Black Angels.”
About Force Form Free
“In 2021, they began work on a collection of jams and experiments for Blues Funeral Recordings’ PostWax series, working up a disparate yet cohesive group of songs that placed new works alongside the culmination of ideas they’d been tinkering with since the band’s genesis.
Force Form Free is spacey and dreamy at times, grimly propulsive at others, and captures Dead Meadow continuing their effortless exploration of the transporting, astral-gazing form they’ve spent their entire existence pushing forward.” (Bandcamp Description)
The album has 6 tracks and a 35-minute runtime, but enough background; let’s get into the music.
“The Left Hand Path” is the first song on Force Form Free and is one of the best tracks presented. Dead Meadow could be compared to King Buffalo during the intro section, a comparison that only slightly weakens as we get further into this one. There seems to be a hypnotic trance feel that permeates the entire track, which is elevated due to the guitar parts and the fact that there are no vocals.
“The Lure Of The Next Peak” follows suit, but this time I hear a bit of Pink Floyd during the intro and an almost reggae influence. Dead Meadow also brings in some eastern vibes, which are not the focal point but are noticeable and add an excellent element to the track.
“Valmont’s Pad” is yet another very cool track! As the song begins, there is an unmistakable 60s vibe, having a Beatles meets Austin Powers type of sound, something that seems odd when you say it aloud but is actually a nice mix of music. The guitar melodies are nicely written, and the playing shows a lot of skill and dedication to that old-school sound.
“To Let The Time Go By” is, in my opinion, the best track on the record, and it is also the shortest, coming in just shy of 3 and a half minutes. The intro is pretty, utilizing a mellow acoustic guitar part with the perfect amount of bass and drums to keep the rhythm. The vocals are performed in a way that is precisely what the mellow feel calls for, and the instrumentation is expertly executed.
Coming in as the second to last song is our title track, “Force Form Free.” Dead Meadow starts us off with an ultra-fuzzy guitar part, making a psych meets desert rock sound. As I listen to this first section, I can only think that King Buffalo are fans of Dead Meadow’s work; a lot is going on during this whole album that has led me to this conclusion, particularly during the entirety of this song.
The final bit of music we hear is “Binah”, which is just over 8 minutes long. I’m not going to dig into this one too much, as there should be at least one element of surprise when our readers go to check out the album. It fits into this record with ease and is as enjoyable as any other song on Force Form Free.
Many bands are playing psychedelic music, and judging by this record, Dead Meadow is one of the best. Force Form Free is a relaxed effort full of 60s vibes and expertise that only comes from years of experience. I recommend that fans of the genre find Dead Meadow wherever you can and immerse yourself in their music; it is a highly enjoyable listening experience!
Support Dead Meadow by checking out their Bandcamp, or finding them on social media (Instagram, Facebook).
This review was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.
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