Boomkat Product Review:
Five years since the band's last full-length record 'An Evil Heat' comes the next part of Oxbow's retreat from the now hugely trendy metal genre. Fair enough they've never made straight-up metal, but 'The Narcotic Story' is their most smouldering record to date, closer to the twisted blues of Tom Waits than the grind of many other acts on Hydrahead. Fronted by the hulking charisma of Eugene Robinson, one part scholar and one part bodybuilder (he has a penchant for getting his kit off on stage too) the band have always managed to awe when playing live, and these tracks get closer to that experience, subtly filling the music with a latent energy and each lyric with a deep aggression, an explosive feeling that never quite lets itself come out on the record, rather you are left to imagine it after the fact. Indeed listening to 'The Narcotic Story' is like reading a book, it has definite chapters and no stand out tracks, embedding its songs in soundcapes and a mire of effect - I was hardly surprised when I read that it had been recorded by the legendary Joe Chiccarelli who most notably produced Frank Zappa. As opposed to the albums produced by Steve Albini, who would leave the songs raw and open, Chiccarelli helps the band cover the songs in a mist of gloom and suicidal intent which brings out intricacies in their music I've never really noticed, and at times their sound is close to the doom you might expect to hear on the Southern Lord label, albeit filtered through a cocktail of prescription drugs. A beguiling chapter in the evolution of a quite singular band, and one for fans of Mike Patton's sprawling adventures, this is an album that requires you to take notice and probably take something else too. Epic stuff.