Man In The Woods, the Isle of Man’s very own stoner/doom/sludge champions, have finally unleashed their debut album….and Badlands is its name!
Opener “Icarus Landing” is a thundering excursion into Kyuss meets Queens Of The Stone Age territory and unsubtly kicks you in the cock from the get-go. From its misleadingly tranquil opening, “Icarus Landing” ironically takes flight when its hypnotic grooves, gruff vocals and fuzzy riffs force their way to the fore (a pre-requisite for much of the music found on Badlands). The template may have long been set in stone but there’s no end of enjoyment still to be had when a band delivers on the promise of a good ol’ fashioned stoner groove. And take our word for it, Man In The Woods do deliver. Over and over again.
With acts such as the aforementioned Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Karma To Burn and Red Fang all providing influences, it’s a joy to discover that Man In The Woods aren’t merely content to keep trotting out variations on over-familiar tropes. Instead, Man In The Woods hop, nimbly, from one sub-genre to the next (with punk and prog also getting a look-in) while maintaining a core, stoner/desert rock sound. This makes for a relatively diverse collection of songs – just check out the maddening fusion of “The Abduction Of Barney Hill” for ample proof that this is one band that pulls from multiple sources.
At their best when allowing their monumental grooves to slowly build before fully taking hold – for example, we’re huge fans of the hypnotically alluring “Iron Strider” – Man In The Woods are fortunately just as adept at churning out satisfyingly speedy songs that hit the ‘punk’ ramp at high velocity – “Speedeater”, we’re looking at you!
With bassist/frontman Marc Vincent bellowing like a moss-covered, forest-dwelling, man-thing who has accidentally stumbled upon civilisation (and doesn’t really like what he sees), there’s a satisfying grit to Man In The Woods‘ sound which is counter-balanced by the often other-worldly ideas that inform the majority of Badlands‘ 9 tracks.
Other-worldly you say? Yep, these guys are just as comfortable wallowing knee-deep in swamp shit (which is where “Trenchfoot” probably comes in to play) as they are gazing nervously at the skies, with alien invasion and extra-terrestrial abduction informing Badlands‘ overall concept.
So, if dark, dystopian, desert-fried grooves soothe your sun-ravaged soul, we say crank up Badlands and brace yourself for a scorching end to the summer! 8/10
Badlands was released on July 29, 2022 via Argonauta Records
MAN IN THE WOODS:
Marc Vincent (bass/vocals)
James Oxtoby (guitar)
David Murray (guitar)
Christian Hardman (drums)