“Tao of the Devil”

By The Great Sun Jester

The second album from Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, "Tao of the Devil", comes courtesy of Napalm Records. The seven song corker swings and blazes with the same gritty creativity distinguishing the first release, "Black Power Flower", and builds on the earlier release in important and sometimes subtle ways. Bjork’s hard rock fire has undergone a gradual metamorphosis over the years since his departure from Kyuss. While he can still unleash utterly convincing six string fury seemingly at will, his songwriting and musical sensibilities glow with a decidedly bluish shade. 

"Tao of the Devil" has few songs bluer than its opener “The Gree Heen”. Much of the song’s first half is focused on Bjork’s warm, resonant voice married to a memorable blues melody. His guitar tone has such immediacy it practically serves as a second vocalist in an unique variation on the call and response device. The brash rocker heart powering “Humble Pie” abandons the understated blues vibe of the original in favor of a brawling riff-driven blues driven at a mid-tempo pace. The loping stoner swing pushing “Stackt” out of the starting blocks wraps itself up with a wire-tight blues phrase. Bjork brings genuine soul to these tracks that defy labels. His vocals and music ideally complement each other and it’s frankly quite rare to find artists or bands where the vocals and arrangements are in such total accord.

“Luvin’” is a remarkable rocker that, hand over heart, will make older listeners recall the glory days of seventies hard rock without even a flutter of self-consciousness. Bjork leans into the music with a confident, even leering vocal not completely missing a streak of humor. The guitar sound bears mentioning again. It doesn’t have a studied effect, like they’ve strained to shallowly approximate that sort of retro turn, but instead sounds like a model of simplicity and its authenticity gives the songs some added grit and gravel. The album’s penultimate track “Dave’s War”: is nine minutes and change of elastic and groove-centered guitar heroics. Bjork’s six string work plays especially well against some of the best swinging pocket drumming on the release. His vocals, likewise, reach a peak of sorts here with a passionate, declamatory style full of fiery urgency. 

The jagged blues menace of the title song maintains a steady, hallucinatory tension from the first note on and resists ever releasing it while a slight slur in Bjork’s vocal underscores the dark atmosphere surrounding the instruments and arrangement. "Black Flower Power" ranked as one of the best albums that year and "Tao of the Devil" is no exception. This is a forceful and well-written collection brimming over with energy from beginning to end. Highly recommended.