Album Review: Beyond Vision By Acid King

There are still a lot of underground bands from 20/30 years ago that I’m not aware of; this is because I’ve only been serious about digging into the stoner/doom/psychedelic genres for about the last eight years. This review is about one of those bands that I’m just discovering; today, we focus on Acid King and their as-of-yet unreleased album, Beyond Vision. 

About Acid King

“Acid King is an American stoner metal band from San Francisco, California. It was formed in 1993 by frontwoman Lori S., drummer Joey Osbourne and bassist Peter Lucas.” (Wikipedia)

The founding members chose the band’s moniker after being inspired by the murderous crimes perpetrated by the alleged Satanist Ricky Kasso, nicknamed “Acid King” thanks to his excessive use of hallucinogens; their self-titled debut EP features a photograph of Kasso on its cover.

There have been lineup changes since 1993, and after their 2015 album, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere, Lori decided to seek out an entirely new batch of musicians. The individuals who helped with Beyond Vision included Lori on guitars and vocals, guitarist Jason Landrian, Bryce Shelton on bass and synths, and drummer Jason Willer.

About Beyond Vision

Beyond Vision will be released on March 24th, 2022, but it was never intended to be an Acid King album. Lori explains that …

“I had kind of an obscure, avant-garde instrumental thing in mind. Once we got together and started writing, it was clear that it was much more.  Some of the songs really needed lyrics. Once we embraced the idea that we weren’t doing an instrumental record and that these were really good songs we were proud of, it became an Acid King record.”

Consisting of 7 tracks, Beyond Vision contains … 

“Blistering guitars and swirling power dirges aplenty, and began as an experiment that became the path to a silver future. Recorded by longtime producer Billy Anderson, the songs flow into each other without beginning or ending, propelled by an undulating, lysergic pulse that takes listeners wherever they’d like to go.” (Bandcamp)

The Music 

I usually won’t do a deep dive into the older music of the bands I review, but with Acid King, I felt compelled to break the mold. I’m happy I did, as it helped me better appreciate Beyond Vision. Go check out earlier albums like the amazing Zoroaster, their self-titled debut EP, and then listen to their more recent recordings to get an idea of the band’s evolution, specifically, 2015’s Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere, which at the time was their first new album in 10 years.

Beyond Vision is a worthy addition to their discography, exhibiting all of the things that have made fans love their music over the last 29 years and leaning a little further into the heavy psych that became more prevalent on Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. This makes it different from any other record they’ve released, a fact that Lori says comes from the fact that she’s … 

“Not the same person I was when the band started 30 years ago. It just seems natural to progress, but it still sounds like Acid King. It’s not like Neil Young’s country record, where it’s like, ‘What are they doing?’ but it is different because I took a step away from the usual lyrical themes that I’ve worked with for so long and decided to branch out.”

The Tracks 

The first sounds we hear on the opening track, “One Light Second Away,” has a doomy industrial vibe, reminding me of both Fear Factory and the tribal percussion of Heilung. The first riff hits at about the 2-minute mark, and the doom vibe is multiplied because of it, as well as introducing a solid slow groove that may have one thinking of Sleep. All of this is made better by the heavy psych vibe that rolls throughout this track, and surprisingly enough, the lack of vocals pushes the track over the top, leaving the music to stand up proudly on its own. 

As the first song fades out, it seamlessly slides into “Mind’s Eye,” which runs for 7 minutes and 11 seconds of heavy psych excellence, a full minute longer than its predecessor. That psych vibe is increased when Lori’s brief vocal part enters, as the approach she chose to use has a hypnotic quality that perfectly coincides with the musical aspect of the song. I was pretty happy when another verse began shortly before the song hit the 6-minute mark, and it fits just as well as the first verse.

Up next is “90 Seconds”, the second shortest track on the record. The intro has more of that semi-industrial sound mixed with a riff that is similar to Sleep again but also reminded me of slower Clouds Taste Satanic riffs. Lori has another fantastic vocal part, sometimes reminding me of what Roger Waters would sound like if he did stoner-doom-psych instead of whining about politics and degrading his ex-bandmates. This track also includes a more atmospheric feel in the music, occasionally taking on a Pink Floyd influence but with heavy guitar tones.

“Electro Magnetic” comes in at the #4 spot. I felt an almost middle eastern sound during its intro, but it’s not overly apparent either. There’s a more prominent psychedelic vibe when compared to the first three songs, which helps create the dynamics that are so important in what is essentially one long song, just with titled chapters. The atmosphere in the first half helps build up to the heavier riffs in an exciting yet subdued way, upping the intensity and tempo once those riffs begin. As things wind down, so does the band, dropping the intense levels of the last two and a half minutes and sending us out much the way we began. 

Next is “Destination Psych,” a 1-minute and 36-second dose of heavy psych serving as a brief interlude.

Second to last is the title track, “Beyond Vision,” which is also my favorite. The guitars supply another solid groove while Lori lays down one of the best vocal performances that she’s ever done. That main riff is fantastic, but it’s the change that occurs right before the guitar solo that hits the hardest after the solo is a section that has a massive Black Sabbath influence, especially within the bass playing, which is incredible and is also total Geezer Butler worship. 

And lastly, we have “Color Trails,” about 8 minutes of heavy doom-psych. While it is similar to the other six tracks, “Color Trails” also has its identity; the same could be said of any of the songs on Beyond Vision. This last track ends the album on a majestic note, showcasing the ideals and directions throughout Beyond Vision.

Final Thoughts 

While Beyond Vision may not be your traditional Acid King album, it is a wonderful foray into new territory. Lori has had a vision for this band since its inception, and the evolution from their earlier work to this one is part of that. 

Any fan of Acid King will love Beyond Vision, and so will those of us who are new to their music. As I said, it’s not like their earlier albums, but that’s also what makes it so damned good. Make sure to check it out and get your pre-order in on their Bandcamp profile. Enjoy!

Support Acid King by finding them on Bandcamp or their official website, or on social media (InstagramFacebook)

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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