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The only word available to describe Tribalbilly is “intense.” It’s very surprising considering the set-up of this Gainesville band. Tribalbilly consists of two members: Alvis Woodrush is the guitarist, whose hollow-bodied Gibson and vintage Fender amp squeal out the loudest, meanest, reverb-to-the-max sound I’ve ever heard. The drummer John Lazzara pounds on a mighty nine-piece drum set. The result is one huge power groove. As the name suggests, the music is of Herculean might: dark, ritualistic, forceful. In a word, intense.

Compared to their live show, this five-song cassette doesn’t do the band much justice. But like any other struggling local band, finances aren’t available for Tribalbilly to record at the level they deserve. The guitar sounds a bit tame, and the drums aren’t as crisp as they should be. All in all, the tape is terrific, but doesn’t capture the true essence and spirit of the music.

“Cycle” opens with a bluesy, inviting riff. The percussion kicks in, and the ceremony begins. “Q + A” is a long drum solo, smashing preconceived notions about how one should be done. With the way Lazzara hammers his skins, you can close your eyes and almost see ancient Indians all decked out in war paint and dancing around the fire as the old and wise medicine man looks on approvingly. The ironically titled “Stops” is a Tribalbilly exercise in speed but, unfortunately, is cut short. My personal favorite, “Ritual,” starts out upbeat, but further into the song the pulse and rhythm increase, and the tune becomes quite hypnotic.

This self-released cassette is a great introduction into the world of Tribalbilly, but a live show completes the experience. This duo is easily one of the best bands I’ve heard in Florida. Check ’em out.

Originally published in Ink Nineteen in October 1993.