Mit Gas is Tomahawk’s second album released on May 6, 2003, on Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings. Mit Gas translates from German to “With Gas”, however, we’re not 100% sure this title was chosen. The album features Duane Dennison on guitar, John Stanier on drums, Kevin Rutmanis on bass guitar, and Mike Patton providing vocals and keyboards.
This is a dark and heavy rock song with a trippy Floydian Metal beginning that leads into a track that alternates being hard and intense with epic openness. It delivers a slightly off-center psychotic mix of guitar and vocal interaction that creates its own world.
Rape This Day
This was the single released from the album. It’s a perfect song for blasting in a fast-moving car. The drums have a bit of a Dave Grohl feel to them, which ups the accessibility factor quite a lot. Not quite punk. Not quite metal. It’s straight-up rock topped with Patton’s uniqueness.
You Can’t Win
“You Can’t Win” is based on a groove that would maim a small town with backside-shaking power. The band simmers under pressure while Patton delivers another character-filled performance. Probably should have been the single. The song has some psychedelic business in the middle that pushes it beyond the funk/rock you think it is and that is part of the weirdness that makes this one a standout.
More grinding individuality here that begins with a slightly less busy Squarepusher-ish beat that leads into a gritty verse featuring Patton’s vocals panning back and forth before exploding into the full-on rock of the chorus. The general feel of the track is unsettling in the most enticing way.
Cool heavy rock in 7/4. Like the best odd-meter bands, you don’t really notice the unevenness until you count it. Dennison delivers one of his best and most textural guitar performances on the record here.
This track features another electronic-type beat that’s then covered in pulsing tremolo-ed guitar. The chorus is explosive power chord-driven rock that comes out of nowhere the first time it hits. True 21st Century art rock, right here.
This is the oddball track on this set. It’s a haunting ballad sung entirely in Spanish. It’s a ghostly song that has little in common with the other songs presented here other than the enigmatic yet intuitive presence of Mike Patton showing us one more of his many gears.
When the Stars Begin to Fall
This song begins with an undulating surf music feel with chromatically-influenced descending vocals that then gives way to a strong punk/metal chorus. Dennison’s guitar work displays touches of the more reverb-drenched moments of Los Angeles punk circa 1980 at times, which puts space and breath in between the harder sections of the cut where Patton dominates.
“Harelip” starts out with a shuffling almost hip-hop kind of beat but quickly morphs into Martian Lounge territory. Patton’s synths add a lot to this track in each section, especially the low tones mixed up high on the chorus. The ending just sort of floats off back to place where ideas like this come from. More art for art’s sake.
This could be called an exercise in atmospherics. The most abstract cut on the album, it has no groove or riff but is a cloud-like mass of droning notes and sampled voices. If Jackson Pollock ever wrote songs, they might sound like this.
The closing track features a low-down drum and acoustic guitar feel topped, of course, with Patton’s vocal eccentricities. It gets heavy and noisy and then feints at an ending. Those who stick around through the long silence get a little more music and vocal sounds for their patience.
The artwork for Mit Gas was designed by Mike Patton and frequent album artist Martin Kvamme.
Reviews of Mit Gas have been generally strong. Alex Young said in a review on www.ConsequencesofSound.net that “Tomahawk is an amazing project” and that “this album sounds like dark, kinky sex.” Scott Hreha wrote the album would appeal to “anyone who gets off on a good old-fashioned visit to the dark side” in Pitchfork review. He wrote possibly the best description of Mit Gas to date, calling it a mix of ‘ambience and onslaught.”