The Psychedelic scene is an unpredictable one. And that unpredictability isn’t just because of the wild instrumentation and influences from psychedelic drug use. Instead, Psychedelic Rock and Metal are unpredictable because anything goes. You can turn massively heavy, like on King Buffalo’s “Red Star, Pt. 2” (off Dead Star), or you can swing into Acid Rock, like Pink Floyd in the late ’60s.
And then there are bands like AAWKS, a four-piece that keeps you on your toes from one fuzzy, spacey trip to the next. On the band’s debut album, Heavy on the Cosmic, they deliver 40 minutes of heavy Psychedelic vibes, channeling the likes of Electric Wizard, Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu, and even Richard Patrick (the frontman of Filter, the ’90s act that was briefly inspired by the Industrial Metal of Nine Inch Nails).
AAWKS is a Barrie, Ontario-based band that originally formed in 2020. AAWKS is:
- Kris Dzierzbicki – Guitar/Vocals
- Roberto Paraiso – Guitar
- Dan Trickett – Bass
- Randylin Babic – Drums
Heavy on the Cosmic was produced by the band and Zack Horvath, who also mixed and mastered the record.
Heavy on the Cosmic Album Review
Release Date: June 10, 2022
Label: Black Throne Productions
Track 1 – Beyond the Sun
Heavy on the Cosmic begins with a discussion on mescaline, psilocybin, DMT, and LSD—all on a backdrop of guitar feedback. Eventually, those guitars kick in for full effect, as does the rest of the band.
“Beyond the Sun” establishes what much of this album will become: A steady, deliberate riff-fest. Like many tracks on this album, “Beyond the Sun” holds a surprising amount of Doom influences with its slow and low riffs, but the tripped-out effects keep the album closer to Psychedelic Stoner Rock than all-out Doom.
Track 2 – Sunshine Apparitions
After the slow and steady quasi-Doom of “Beyond the Sun,” “Sunshine Apparitions” zips out of the starting gate with a fun, exciting primary riff that makes the song danceable like a Queens of the Stone Age track. That Desert Rock swagger continues throughout the song, and the guitar solo at the end is one of the best on the album, especially when it’s broken up by those pounding drums.
Track 3 – The Woods
“The Woods” is a Hard Rock banger dressed in Psychedelic garb, and those swirling, fuzzy guitars often hold a pregnant Doom riff that should delight a variety of music lovers.
Track 4 – All Is Fine
Remember when we talked about the Doom influences in “Beyond the Sun?” Well, “All Is Fine” opens on a riff that sounds a great deal like the slow dread of Electric Wizard. That influence lives on for the first minute and a half until the band launches into an upbeat riff similar to the one in “Sunshine Apparitions”—until they come back to that same slow, steady riff as before.
Track 5 – The Electric Traveller
“The Electric Traveller” was the second single ahead of the album release. The coolest track on the album up to this point, “The Electric Traveller” relies on a pulsing riff and bass line, which are backed by tons of swirling guitar fuzz. It’s an electrifying Psychedelic Stoner track.
Track 6 – Space City
The first single ahead of the album’s full release, “Space City” relies on big, punchy riffs and heavy drums to create a massive, rhythmic experience. Dzierzbicki alters some of his vocal approach on this song as well, occasionally coming across like Richard Patrick in early Filter (think “Hey Man, Nice Shot”).
Track 7 – Star Collider
“Star Collider” begins with a thick Fu Manchu-style riff, and it momentarily seems like it’s going to blast into something much heavier. That’s not the case, though, as “Star Collider” maintains the same chilled-out vibes as the rest of Heavy on the Cosmic. And while there’s certainly plenty to love about “Star Collider,” the best part of the song may simply be the rests in the instrumentation, which are just long enough to have you open an eye—right before they dive back into the riff.
Track 8 – Peeling Away
“Peeling Away” is the best chill-out song on all of Heavy on the Cosmic. Steady and laidback, “Peeling Away” is the kind of closer that’ll have your eyes closed and head nodding—a sort of rhythmic hypnosis that makes the final guitar solo all the more powerful.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Standout Tracks: “Sunshine Apparitions” and “Star Collider”
Pros: There’s nothing pretentious about Heavy on the Cosmic. This is a solid, consistent record that smartly concludes before its fuzz-drenched journey grows stale. Plus, that innovative blend of Stoner riffs with Doom tones and Psychedelic effects is a captivating approach to songwriting. There’s plenty to love here—and plenty of people will love it.
Cons: Ultimately, Heavy on the Cosmic is a better album than it is a collection of individual songs. While that’s arguably a victory in the Stoner/Psychedelic/Doom space, it also means there are few landmark tracks to create exciting anchor points throughout the listening experience. Like Sleep’s Dopesmoker, Heavy of the Cosmic will be best appreciated from start the finish—and certainly most of all by listeners with a deep appreciation for long, expansive jams.