The long-awaited self-titled debut album from Farmikos has arrived and it does not disappoint! Fans of soaring vocals, blistering guitars, heavy bass grooves, precision drumming, finely crafted songs & top notch production and mixing will love this album! Farmikos is the brain child of former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Joe Holmes, ex-Laidlaw vocalist Robbie Locke and collaborator Brent Hoffort of My Own Machine fame.
Having been a fan of Ozzy since childhood, I’d been a fan of Joe’s since he joined in 1995. It bums me out that, with the exception of one song on a Beavis & Butt-Head soundtrack, Joe never got to display his six string skills on record with Ozzy before departing in 2001. I first heard of Robbie Locke when he joined Laidlaw back in 2005. He sang on their criminally underrated and out-of-print 2006 album “The Foam Box Sessions”. His vocal range is mind-blowing but he is also a stellar songwriter. When I heard that Joe & Robbie had teamed up a few years back, I was excited to say the least.
Over the past year, they had released teaser video clips via YouTube and subsequent singles via various digital outlets, all-the-while continuing to record for what would become their self-titled debut album that was released this week. Through word of mouth and a real grassroots approach on the internet, they’ve built a good buzz amongst Hard Rock/Heavy Metal fans eager to hear what they had to offer. I do not think people will be disappointed after they hear the album in its entirety.
Kicking off with “Scapegoat”, the song builds for a bit before Joe & Robert trade chugging riffs. Robbie really pushes his vocal cords to the limit on this song while showcasing his range. While you hear elements of Chris Cornell and Robert Plant in his vocals, he has one of the most unique voices in Rock or Metal today & his range is unmatched. “Scapegoat” is the perfect opener as it just full-throttle from start to finish & really sets the tone for the majority of the album. Joe rips one helluva blistering solo announcing he is back with a vengeance from his fourteen year hiatus. Up next is one of my favorite songs on the album, “Am I One”. Opening with a bluesy run atop of some subtle rhythm guitar, it slowly gains momentum before locking into a hypnotic groove. Robbie lays down a menacing vocal over a Sabbath-esque riff. You can get lost in the groove of this song and before you know it, eight and a half minutes has passed like nothing. I can’t rave enough about Rich Mouser’s production and mix on this album. Everything blends together just perfectly. While edited digitally, the fact it was recorded on to two inch analog tape is evident in the warmth of the recording of each performance.
“Kings Of Dust” finds the band slowing things down a bit and locking in to an Alice In Chains vibe. I especially digg the vocal breakdown that finds Robbie using a deeper register for the mellow effect before Joe kicks in with a blazing solo. “The Spoon And Sun” kicks things back up a notch but locked into another hypnotic groove. This songs goes through several tempo changes and moods. An interesting track is up next. “Fragile” finds Robbie “dueting” with Skidred’s Benji Webbe. I will be the first to admit that I am not familiar with Benji but his delivery is very interesting. The Middle Eastern vocals that start and end the song are very cool. Up next is another sludgy groove with “The Sound Of My Gun” that finds Robbie using his vocal range to convey the moodiness of the lyric. Joe lays down my favorite solo of the album on this song as well.
Do not let the Sabbath-y intro fool you as “Ascension” picks up the pace. A fast paced rocker that should go over great live. Joe throws down another scorching solo before Robbie brings things down a bit vocally at the end. “I Was Them” has a classic Soundgarden vibe to it with Robbie using the low end of his vocal register in the verses before going high in the choruses. Joe and the rhythm section lay back in the pocket throughout allowing the vocal performance to shine. Robbie really channels his inner Robert Plant on the verses of “Exit Stencils” while going the Layne Staley route on parts of the choruses. I like how the bass is up in the mix on this track and Joe’s outro solo should have shredheads rejoicing. We have come to the final song & Farmikos throws us a curveball with a purely acoustic number entitled “Facing East” . You can envision Robbie & Joe as you see in the music video (see below). Just them with an acoustic guitar, lights down, incense burning and going with the vibe. As much as I enjoyed the album, this is right up there with “Am I One” as my favorite. Very Zeppelin-esque that shows the band in a different direction. A nice way to end such a rocking album.
In conclusion, Rich Mouser did a fantastic job of capturing the performances as they happened then perfected them with the mix. Nothing gets buried and the parts that need to shine, do. The diversity of the material & the performances contained within Farmikos’ debut album leave me excited for the future. While I love Robert, Brooks and Ken’s contributions to the album, I can’t help but look into the future as to what this band could do live and in the studio with a permanent cast of players. This is a great start to hopefully a really long future. If you digg Hard Rock with a touch of Metal where the singer can cut loose or lay back vocally with a dynamic range, lush melodies, blistering riffs and some amazing solos and an airtight rhythm section than Farmikos debut album should be right up your alley!
02. Am I One
03. Kings Of Dust
04. The Spoon And Sun
06. The Sound Of My Gun
08. I Was Them
09. Exit Stencils
10. Facing East (previously unreleased)
Joe Holmes – Guitars
Robbie Locke – Vocals
Brent Hoffort – Guitars on “Kings Of Dust”
Robert Trujillo – Bass
Brooks Wackerman – Drums
Ken Schalk – Drums
Benji Webbe – Guest Vocals on “Fragile”
Co-Produced by Joe Holmes and Rich Mouser
Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Rich Mouser at The Mouse House in Los Angeles, California
“Facing East” Music Video:
Album Sampler Video:
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