Sound — 10
What a sound. Abetted by engineer Rick Mouser and recorded to tape, this stuff squirms and stings all over you like a swarm of jellyfish in a surging surf. The rhythms are often tricky yet hardnosed and nasty. Tempos shift up and grind down. Singer Robbie Locke screams out his demons with true desperation and virtuoso command. Holmes matches the passion - his leads skid, scramble and boil over as if released from prison; his greasy palms milk the riffs for every ounce of bile and horror. It doesn't hurt to have the grim weight of Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman and Metallica bass earthman Robert Trujillo platforming him like a sumo mound; despite their other commitments, these dudes feel like a band.
Lyrics — 10
Brent Hoffort of My Own Machine gets credit as "writing collaborator," and if that means he helped with the lyrics, good for him. The words pull plenty of vivid poetry without getting overspecific, so the mood stays on a universal plane: "He eased his way into the broken stream of city sidewalk against the minds of everyone" ("Exit Stencils"); "See the maggot in your own eye, pink, fat, eternal" ("Spoon and Sun"). Although Farmikos grows its own updated industrial/metal bent, influences creep in, like the Zep-like "Immigrant Song" octave riff and background vocal wail on "The Sound of My Gun," and especially several Alice In Chains homages in the vocal harmonies and even some of the lead singing, which I would have sworn was AIC guitarist Jerry Cantrell himself (not late singer Layne Staley) if Farmikos admitted any direct connection.
Overall Impression — 10
Farmikos guitarist Joe Holmes don't get the props, cuz he shreds on no Ozzy studio albums (although he co-wrote some super songs on 2001's "Down to Earth"), and nobody who saw him at all those Ozzfests knows what he looks like due to the curtain of hair over his dustbowl mug. On the level of technique and fluidity, though, he ranks right alongside Randy Rhoads and the rest. Farmikos is releasing its material piecemeal, with no hard copies - five songs so far. Good strategy? History will judge, but there's no question about this band's power, commitment and distinction. Freshest dark melodic metal I've heard this year.