After the spotty but promising Raise, England’s Swervedriver put it all together in a big way. Right from the opening “For Seeking Heat,” one can tell this is one of the hottest albums of 1993 — certainly it’s the hottest-produced album. The album explodes with the first onslaught of guitars and keeps up the crackling, monstrous, gargantuan feel thereafter. Add to that some pretty massive melodies they’ve never before displayed (a heretofore hidden pop sense), complete with pond-deep vocals and harmonies, especially the splendid harmonies that enliven the all-powerful “Blowin’ Cool” chorus, the LP standout track along with “Duel.” Best of all, they’ve discarded what little bothersome metallic tendencies Raise had, yet Mezcal Head pulses with even more chops. Additionally, the wah-wah here is used more judiciously, making it more of a flavor element. In the end, though, it’s these tremendous songs — a dozen unique, never-repeating compositions, so big and bold they latch on with the first play and kick your ass without seeming like they tried hard to do it — that are the benefit of increased confidence, direction, and the bulging, steam-edge production.
Behind the mixing desk, this is by far the best work yet by Alan Moulder (Ride, Boo Radleys); this is the warmest, biggest, most dynamite-loud yet clean sound he (and Swervedriver, together) has ever achieved. The band’s new lineup (new rhythm section) is tighter and more flexible, with nicer bottom end and stylistic touches, while also being precise — the otherwise unnecessary jam at the end of “Last Train to Satansville” is redeemed somewhat by the bass and drums’ disciplined two-note pounding. As an added bonus, 1992’s breakthrough single, “Never Lose That Feeling” (a harbinger of Mezcal Head‘s greatness), is added to the U.S. release. The only minor flaws are that some of the songs seem to go on a little too long, and some of the really good songs on the second half of the LP aren’t quite as breathtaking as the first half, but that’s getting greedy; most bands would kill for this side two. In any case, this is one whale of a record.