Matt Pike was going insane during the pandemic and without touring, or having access to his bandmates, he decided to develop his first solo effort. The resulting Pike vs. the Automaton is an extension of his well-worn, Motorhead-meets-Black Sabbath-while high on crank, heavy sound, with a few added experiments to alter the course of the ten-track effort.
Drummer Jon Reid wrote the songs with Pike and Billy Anderson co-produced (and played some bass) as other guests jumped on board when called upon. However, this is clearly a Pike record through and through, fans will not have to worry about him adjusting his style, and in fact it is mostly more of the same.
The lovers of Sleep will be enamored with the stoner rock-leaning, elongated efforts like the thundering “Apollyn” and “Trapped in a Midcave” which bleeds into “Epoxia”. For those keener on Pikes High on Fire style, look no further than the stomping opener “Abusive”, and the horror movie in waiting soundtrack single “Alien Slut Mom”.
When the sounds shift into more unfamiliar zones things improve even more. The acoustic-based, backwoods mushroom trip “Land” with Brett Hinds (Mastodon) slide guitar is the most surprising, and successful of the bunch. It gives Pike a more relaxed avenue to explore and stay weird while the furious blast beats; screeching vocals (from wife Alyssa Maucere-Pike) and oddly placed samples excite the synapses on “Acid Test Zone”.
Another successful full-throttled effort with distorted roars, screaming/chanting vocals and hardcore slamming is “Throat Cobra” as Todd Burdette (Tragedy) spices up the sound and really the only misstep is closer “Leaving The Wars of Woe” which doesn’t do a whole lot to engage (even with Jeff Matz showing up on electric saz) over its eleven minute run time.
For Pike this heavy pounding music is his lifeblood; he will layer manic riffs, double kick drums, and sludge up the bass lines until the world starts turning again. However, if we are stuck like this for the time being, Pike vs. the Automaton is a banging slice of metal to hurl yourself against the wall towards.