Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Album Review: Fist Fight In The Parking Lot Fires Up 2014 With "Year of the Ox"

Fist Fight In The Parking Lot began getting national attention in 2012 as their debut, self-titled album began circulating among fans of stoner rock.  The Pittsburgh-based band has returned to satisfy the cravings of their growing fan base with their newest release, Year of the Ox.

Those who loved the droning heaviness that proliferated most of the tracks on their previous release are sure to feel that same euphoria when they crank up the first new track, "The Ox."  Starting with a sludgy, distorted bass that morphs into a song that is as slow and low-pitched as anything this reviewer has ever heard, it wasn't until the vocals of singer Abby Krizner came in that I was convinced that I wasn't listening to a vinyl record at half speed.  You want stoner rock that's just shy of the doom metal classification?  "The Ox" is the epitome of just that.

The second song, "Something," switches up the feel of the album emphatically.  With an upbeat tempo and undeniable groove, Fist Fight In The Parking Lot make it clear early that they aren't a one-trick pony - or one-trick ox or one-trick bovine of any persuasion.  The chorus contains one of the band's most hook-laden moments, with multiple voices singing "I've been telling you to go home for years/Ripped me off, you were a safe bet my dear."

"Something" almost channels a '90's female-fronted alt-rock feel, not unlike something you might have heard from Veruca Salt or The Breeders if someone tuned their guitars down five semitones without them noticing.  Different for Fist Fight?  Yeah.  Cool?  Hell yeah!

"Natural Fool" swings the tempo pendulum back to the slower side of the metronome and keeps a melancholy feel throughout.  But that pendulum reverses course again on "Horsemouth," the most metal of the five tunes on Ox.  This number features the grittiest vocals from Krizner, whose delivery on the first three tracks of this release was surprisingly pristine - dare I say pretty - compared to her more whisky-soaked shouts on Fist Fight's debut.

Though "Eunuch in a Tunic" is a hilarious title, the emotions stirred up by this closing track are anything but funny.  In fact, the dark, plodding music is so spooky that one can almost picture Satan himself firing up a bong and giving a sharp-nailed thumbs up as a sign of approval to the song.  The tune and the album end with the band singing trippy "ah's" in morosely beautiful harmonies over guitarist Jason Sichi's understated solo as the volume slowly fades to a hallucinogenic dream-inducing silence.

No, Year of the Ox is not a disc you'll be pulling out for your niece's first holy communion party.  Like Black Sabbath was the antithesis to the flower-power, peace-loving hippies in the 20th century, Fist Fight In The Parking Lot is this year's welcome, mud-encrusted reprieve from the squeaky-clean hipster culture of the current millennium.

Editor's Note:  Fist Fight In The Parking Lot will be hosting the CD release party for Year of the Ox on January 11, 2014 at 8PM at Altar Bar in Pittsburgh, PA.  More information can be found at their website, http://www.fistfightintheparkinglot.com.

# of Facebook page "Likes" for Fist Fight In The Parking Lot at the time of this writing:  2,628.

Helping Hands Rock Reviews prides itself on discovering great bands just before they break.  We record the number of Facebook Likes to watch our favorite artists grow and to track how far we are ahead of the curve.