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Deep Guide to Fix Stuttering, Increase FPS and Understand How BDO's Engine Works for Efficiency-seekers.

Deep Guide to Fix Stuttering, Increase FPS and Understand How BDO's Engine Works for Efficiency-seekers.
I'm constantly updating the guide according to feedback! Please, comment down below any question or issue so we can make this guide a better place of shared knowledge. Your feedback is very important to improve this guide!
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Welcome to The Guide you were probably looking for this whole time. This is my first Reddit post ever and I have no clue how this page works, so I will try my best. Without further ado, let's start!

1.- How does BDO's Engine work? → From my experience, BDO is made for 4/6 real core processors, being 6 cores the sweet spot and 4 real cores + 2 Hyper-Threading cores threads doable. However, as weird as it sounds, you MIGHT get more FPS with 5 real cores manually assigned to BDO on a high-end CPU or with optimized background system processes, although not fully recommended due to instability issues (we will get into that later on). There is no doubt the engine takes advantadge of single-threaded loads way more than parallelism (multithreading such as Hyper-Threading from Intel or SMT from AMD), like many other older games.
2.- Is there any risk by following this guide? → Short answer: Yes -- Long answer: No, but yes. Although bare with me for a moment. BDO is mainly a CPU-bound game, and the higher the graphics, the lower CPU usage you'll have, usually. The basic key to performance is a healthy, strong and happy CPU with the proper GPU settings to decrease latency in essence and achieving CPU performance and reducing CPU bottlenecks. Because of that, I'm providing rather intrusive ways to sqeeze any possible performance with the risk of something getting corrupted in the way. (Please do make a back-up as suggested further in the guide in case something goes wrong).
3.- Do I need to overclock? → Maybe. BDO directly scales with core clock for FPS and cache speed for game stability and FPS. Not everyone knows how to overclock, but lower-end CPU users will have to manually push their hardware to decrease stutters (you can't avoid them with a weak Intel 4-core processor, even with Hyper-Threading unless you can overclock to the very reasonable limit) and hopefully have a good cooling solution to handle it if possible since not every Intel user owns a "K" version of their processor.
4.- But... I wanna overclock! → There's this guy called Buildzoid on YouTube who owns a very dedicated overclocking channel: Actually Hardcore Overclocking. You should start by learning the very basics of how your computer works at its very core and much more to prevent unwanted results.
5.- How many FPS will I get? → You will get as much as your CPU capability to handle background processes, its raw single-core power and RAM latency. With a Ryzen 9 3900X, I managed to get 700 FPS in empty BA and 850 FPS in the desert on lowest optimal and proper Windows optimization and settings. Moreover, your GPU plays a small but somewhat important role.
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○ Guide Index ○

You can do the steps in whichever order you want, but make sure to finish them all.

  1. Nvidia and AMD Graphics Configuration « DONT SKIP » — Duration = 5 minutes.
  2. Windows and in-game BDO settingsDuration = 30-50 minutes.
  3. Setting Up Process Lasso for BDO « DONT SKIP » — Duration = 5-10 minutes. — This part will explain every kind of scenario according to your processor.

Intel processors:

  • CPU with 4 cores and 4 cores + Hyper-Threading.
  • CPU with 6 cores and 6 cores + Hyper-Threading.
  • CPU with 8 cores and more (with or without Hyper-Threading).

AMD Processors:

  • Zen1 and Zen+ Processors (Ryzen 1000 and 2000 series).
  • Zen2 and Zen3 Processors (Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series).
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○ Nvidia and AMD Graphics Configuration ○

Nvidia → Go to Nvidia Control Panel > Manage 3D Settings > Program Settings > Choose "BlackDesert64.exe" and do the following: Disable V-sync, G-sync and turn on Threaded Optimization (it increases FPS on CPUs with more than 4 threads but it may produce stutters on old processors).
AMD → Here's the configuration for AMD users which will uncap FPS on Fullscreen (Radeon Anti-Lag may lower FPS and produce stuttering).
Also, make sure you have the right monitor frequency (Hz).
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○ Windows and in-game BDO settings ○


  • Step #1 → Follow Xander Baatz's Guide to Tweak Windows for Gaming Performance. Do not skip any single step! Please, do make a restore point as shown in the video since anything can go wrong, from experience. Disclaimer: This will disable most of the useless features and bloatware from Windows, especially the Windows 10 Photo Visualizer and Media Player. However, you can download this .reg file to enable the Windows 7 Photo Visualizer.
  • Step #2:
  1. Download Process Lasso for further optimization.
  2. Download HWiNFO for sensor monitoring and BIOS and hardware information.
  3. Disable Memory Compression in Windows by entering the following in Windows PowerShell with Admin Rights: Disable-MMAgent -mc (to turn it back on, enter Enable-MMAgent -mc). \ Requires PC restart ]) .This feature compresses RAM through the CPU, thus potentially producing FPS drops. If an error occours when entering this command, try enabling scripts for Windows Powershell with Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope CurrentUser -Force .
  4. Guide on How to Disable HPET. Very helpful since it will increase your performance by a small margin.

DISCLAIMER:
Process Lasso is not a freeware software, which means after 30 days, a message will pop up for 10 seconds everytime you start up the program, just like WinRar. However, there is Coreprio, a free, open source, less intrusive solution which saves core affinity assigned through Windows Task Manager, and Intelligent Standby List Cleaner.

Make sure your RAM speed is configured right from BIOS because it's crucial for CPU performance. Check your stock values and manually apply the correct frequency, or enable XMP profile which will apply a proper RAM configuration.
Please, if you have no idea to fix it and you still wanna try, follow This Video from JayZTwoCents on how to adjust RAM speed. It is a little outdated video since most of people will use DDR4 RAMs, so in case you manually have to apply 3000 MHz (up to 3600 MHz) and don't use XMP Profile, apply 1.35V for DRAM Voltage in BIOS.

  • Step #3.1 → Downscale your in-game UI to 80-90% (1080p) or 80-100% (1440p) to increase performance and download this font (OPTIONAL) for clear readability. Also create 3 UI Preset for FPS performance. How to change your font in BDO.
  • Step #3.2 → Create 3 UI Profiles. Since the UI is a very CPU-intensive aspect of the game, it's one of the best ways to increase FPS without any risks! Detailed info down below.
https://preview.redd.it/xp3t6a2eeyk51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=9da6090aa1841b2086746510c0b42ef727994c0f
  • Preset 1 - Casual Mode:
  1. Merge "Chat Windows" in one single window.
  2. Hide the "Game Tips" bar in bottom-left of the screen.
  3. Activate UI elements such as "Quest Widgets", "Characater Info" and everything you need.

https://preview.redd.it/d03p0c7feyk51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=8377a8c44b15bea4a483a67d307006a89111539f
  • Preset 2 - Nodewar Mode:
  1. Disable "Quest Widgets", "Level" and "Family Buffs" information.
  2. Disable "Menu Button" in the bottom-right of the screen.
  3. Turn on "Minimap" (arrows in the 2D map will lower FPS, so make sure you do all the Asula quests and forfeit useless quests, hence why you might run more fps with 3D map).

https://preview.redd.it/jd08p75geyk51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=e7387a8eb008cc1b5ec293b08f63820b0408d361
  • Preset 3 - Maximum Performance Mode:
  1. Disable "Minimap". It consumes a lot of CPU and thus reducing performance drastically.
  2. Disable "Function Button" Panel next to it top-right of the screen.

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  • Step #3.3 → Crucial game settings.
https://preview.redd.it/cgkgce7ieyk51.png?width=823&format=png&auto=webp&s=139295c2c25f9c038bcbf90bae26b688d95b8b73
  • "Auto Frame Optimization" at 45 or 60. It will disable nearby effects automatically after a few seconds once it drops to the selected FPS.
  • Enable "Performance Optimization" if you have +8GB of RAM (no proven benefit yet).
  • Disable "Attack Decisions" if not needed.
  • Turn on "Effect optimization" at 75% to decrease effect quality.

https://preview.redd.it/dmr7exlhtjp51.png?width=824&format=png&auto=webp&s=7660e0f5d7af8d5ce09b37407dc2fc99246fa028
  • Enable "Crop Mode" and set it in the range shown in the screenshot.
  • Play on "Full Screen" preferably, unless you have the 390.77 Nvidia driver which uncaps FPS on "Full Screen Window" for GTX Graphics Cards (doesn't work on RTX cards).

https://preview.redd.it/8rc8m7gjujp51.png?width=1646&format=png&auto=webp&s=3b3a0785d37309e3d6dd7e992b6614a55e487365
  • Set "Texture Quality" to "High" because it potentially prevents stutters.
  • "Graphics" to your prefered settings, although "Very Low" or "Medium" is recommended if your GPU is powerful for a balanced quality experience.
Thanks to u/ACanadianNoob for pointing out the following:
Part of the issue is that this game only stores textures once from what I can tell, rather than actually having multiple raw copies of textures at the various file sizes. When you run on low textures your CPU is actually compressing them before sending them to the GPU. This game runs best at high textures as long as you have over 4GB VRAM for this reason.

https://preview.redd.it/j9vffbzzeyk51.png?width=822&format=png&auto=webp&s=dc61521ab9b2dbcd573a0738340f3edd56984174
Best settings in my opinion for clarity in PvP and performance.
  • Disable "Photo Filter" since induces latency and reduces FPS.
  • You can increase or decrease "Effect Opacity", but it may affect your FPS.
  • Totally disable "Combat Focus" since it produces weird effects such as slow motion upon using Shadow Eruption as Sorceress.

https://preview.redd.it/dka1vyr1fyk51.png?width=821&format=png&auto=webp&s=8d56f853c8f730b124e5ae0841a57e2c23a588a9
  • Disable "Overall Camera Effect" to 0% for maximum performance and clarity, unless you want an earthquake fuckfest in front of you.
  • Increase "Camera Vision Range" to 100% for maximum Field of View.

https://preview.redd.it/1kdol3b5fyk51.png?width=820&format=png&auto=webp&s=059ca1c2acf37d1bc2f05575a5411479ffcd7798
  • Disable every alert you don't need to increase performance and it's als rather annoying. Every UI element reduces FPS basically.

https://preview.redd.it/mj96zr56fyk51.png?width=821&format=png&auto=webp&s=5722e6f1f839e0974475e3e4dac0ec61751a0b1e
  • Activate "Use Mouse to Move" since it increases your FPS upon using the cursor (Mouse Movement) by pressing the CTRL key.
Weird behaviour, you can blame the developers for their coding. If they fixed that, everybody would gain a pretty decent FPS boost, ranging from 15-40 FPS...
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○ Setting Up Process Lasso for BDO ○

  • Go under "Main" and enable "SmartTrim", "Perfomance Mode" and set "Active Power Profile" to either "High Performance" or "Bitsum Highest Performance".
  • Only enable "ProBalance" if you know the function's behaviour since it can mess up with other processes' core afinity and produce unpleasant results.
  • Locate "BlackDesert64.exe" and set its priority to "Above Normal". Now find every "CoherentUI_Host.exe" and set their priority to the lowest. Now do the same with "xcoronahost.xem" and "xxd-0.xem".
DISCLAIMERS:
Thumb Rule: for Intel, odd cores are HT threads. For AMD, because of how SMT works, you either stick to even or odd cores.
Hyper-Threading & SMT are not useless! It is true that you can achieve higher overclocks on real cores by disabling it, but the benefits of parallel processing overweights gaming performance if you wanna optimize everything manually. Also, you can assign HT or SMT threads to simulate BDO's peak performance threshold of 6 real cores (it will increase stability but won't scale as well as with real cores).
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For Intel Users Only:

  • 4-core CPU: Your only hope is to overclock and pray your stuttering gets better, but you'll need to upgrade sooner or later. I'm sorry.
  • 4-core + Hyper-Threading CPU: Stutters will still be present without overclocking your CPU. However, follow the affinity below to increase performance.
4-core + Hyper-Threading CPU → Core Affinities setup for each process in Process Lasso. Names of the processes in the image.
  • 6-core CPU: You can't do much since 6 cores is the sweet spot for great performance and stability.
It should be set like this by default, which is already good. There is little room for optimization. Names of the processes in the image.
  • 6-core + Hyper-Threading CPU:
6-core + Hyper-Threading CPU → Core Affinities setup for each process in Process Lasso. Names of the processes in the image.
  • 8-core without Hyper-Threading:
8-core → Core Affinities setup for each process in Process Lasso. Names of the processes in the image.
  • 8-core with Hyper-Threading:
8-core + Hyper-Threading CPU → Core Affinities setup for each process in Process Lasso. Names of the processes in the image.
10-core w/ Hyper-Threading:
10-core + Hyper-Threading CPU → Core Affinities setup for each process in Process Lasso. Names of the processes in the image.

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For Ryzen Users Only:
Info about Ryzen processors. You can find every processor and specifications right there.

  • For Desktop Ryzen 1000 and 2000 series (Zen1 and Zen+ accordingly).
Zen1 (Ryzen 1000 series) and Zen+ (Ryzen 2000 series) are special cases and harder to deal with due to Infinity Fabric bottlenecks, which aren't that harsh in the Zen2 Ryzen 3000 series.
Thanks to u/_Tim- for testing and pointing out the following (physical core = real core):
The reason of this is supposedly because of how SMT works.
• Physical core 1 is logical core 0/1
• Physical core 2 is logical core 2/3
• Physical core 3 is logical core 4/5
• Physical core 4 is logical core 6/7 and so on.
With the logical cores being the ones you can select in the task manager or in Process Lasso. You are virtually just disabling SMT for that program with choosing just odd or even cores.
If one of both logical cores is still enabled, the whole performance of the core will be used, without splitting the work into two threads. That splitting is the issue that lowers fps for some games, for whatever reason. So, as long as you don't enable the whole physical core (or rather SMT), the performance will stay good.
However, running 6 threads for BDO by using SMT to compensate will increase FPS stability and reduce stutters.
Know how many CCXs you have for these series → Divide the amount of cores by 2. Per example: Ryzen 7 2700X has 8 cores/16 threads = (4 cores/8 threads) per CCX.

Processor Amount of Cores and CCXs Core Affinity for "BlackDesert64.exe" Core Affinity for CoherentUI_Host.exe / xcoronahost.xem / xxd-0.xem
Ryzen 5 1400 / 1500 / 1500X / 2500X 4 Cores = 2 Cores per CCX (0,1,2,3) or (1,2,3,4) (4,5,6,7) or (5,6,7,8)
Ryzen 5 1600 / 1600X / 2600 / 2600X 6 Cores = 3 Cores per CCX (0,1,2,3,4,5) (6,7,8,9,10,11)
Ryzen 7 1700 / 1700X / 2700 / 2700X 8 Cores = 4 Cores per CCX (0,1,2,3,4,6) (8 to 15)
Ryzen Threadripper 1900X 8 Cores = 4 Cores per CCX (0,1,2,3,4,6) (8 to 15)
Ryzen Threadripper 1920X / 1950X / 2920X / 2950X / 2970WX / 2990WX 12, 16, 24 or 32 Cores = 6, 8, 12, 16 Cores per CCX (0,2,4,6,8,10) Remaining Cores Ranging from 12 and Above.

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Zen 2 Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series have an improved Infinity Fabric, so sharing cores within CCXs is barely noticeable as long as they belong to the same CCD. However, there is a latency penalty when sharing cores between CCDs, so stick to the fastest one (usually the first CCD).

Processor Amount of Cores and CCDs. Core Affinity for "BlackDesert64.exe" Core Affinity for CoherentUI_Host.exe / xcoronahost.xem / xxd-0.xem
Ryzen 5 3500 / 3500X / 3600 / 3600X / 3600XT / 5600X 1 CCD = 6 Cores/CCD (0,2,4,6,8,10) (1,3,5,7,9,11)
Ryzen 7 3700 / 3700X / 3800X / 3800XT / 5800X 1 CCD = 8 Cores/CCD (0,2,4,6,8,10) (12,13,14,15)
Ryzen 9 3900 / 3900X / 5900X 2 CCD = 6 Cores/CCD (0,2,4,6,8,10) (12 to 23)
Ryzen 9 3950X / 5950X 2 CCD = 8 Cores/CCD (0,2,4,6,8,10) (16 to 31)
Ryzen Threadripper 3960X 4 CCD = 6 Cores/CCD (0,2,4,6,8,10) (12 to 23)
Ryzen Threadripper 3970X 4 CCD = 8 Cores/CCD (0,2,4,6,8,10) (16 to 31)
Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 8 CCD = 8 Cores/CCD (0,2,4,6,8,10) (16 to 31)
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You can assign every other background process to the unused cores for BDO to further improve the performance.
However, I do NOT encourage it unless you have a CPU with lots of cores and you know the consequencues of doing it such as system instability, crashes or even Windows blue screens.
Example of core affinity management on Ryzen 9 3900X to optimize BDO performance.
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That's the end of the guide (for now). I will keep updating small details over time to please everyone. STAY TUNED
submitted by RooScoe_ to blackdesertonline

/r/QOTSA Official Band of the Week 21: ALL THEM WITCHES

Let me ask you a question. If you haven’t listened to Kyuss, are you even a QotSA fan?
I suppose it is possible. Some people can be Peter Gabriel fans without being Genesis fans, or Ozzy Osbourne fans without being Black Sabbath fans, or Audioslave fans without being fans of Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. And I am pretty sure that there are Foo Fighters fans out there who are not fans of Nirvana -- probably because Foo Fighters are a way better band than Nirvana.
Yeah, I said it. Come at me.
But QotSA without Kyuss? I can’t see it. Maybe I am biased because I just love the low desert sound. Heavy riffs, lots of fuzz ,and earthquake-inducing bass are my jam. That’s why I love Self-Titled so much and why I feel 18 A.D. is chronically underappreciated as a song, and it is an absolute crime that they don’t play it live.
I know I am not alone in this. Kyuss were a genre defining band that created what we now call Stoner Rock. Bands like Valley of the Sun, King Buffalo, Truckfighters, Stonerror, Sleep, Clutch, Mother Engine, Mondo Generator, Duel, and Fu Manchu all continue to write and perform Stoner Rock today. If you haven’t taken a dive into this scene, I totally envy the fact that you get to experience this music for the first time.
Today we are going to check out a great Stoner Rock band that just dropped a new album a few weeks ago. They have more fuzz than a five day backwoods fishing trip. They have bigger jams than Smucker’s, Welch’s, and Kraft combined. They will make your one-hitter hit a home run. You are gonna want to roll down the windows of your low riding caddy and drive all night through the desert.
Yep, you are in for a treat. This week’s band is ALL THEM WITCHES.
About Them
You are familiar with the Hero’s journey, right? That is the literary trope where our protagonists leave their comfortable little world, are mentored through a series of increasing challenges, find themselves at a low point, overcome obstacles, and return home greater and wiser than before?
As with every story of heroes, our group of adventurers from Nashville Tennessee went on a truly epic journey. Drummer Robby Staebler had just arrived in Nashville from Portland, Oregon and was looking for some buds to start a band. He had rolled up at his new home in the back of a moving van, because his mom had decided that he was just not good enough to ride up front. His dad was conspicuously absent. After meeting a sketchy male role model with a Smashmouth-esque chinstrap beard, he was forced by this would-be academic to enslave a small animal. He then ran away from home to engage in a series of escalating gladiatorial fights for money.
Wait. Shit. That is the plot of Pokemon Emerald, not the story of All Them Witches. Damn free emulators. Such a massive time sink.
Mudkip for the win. You are damn right I’m bringing back that meme.
Where was I? I kinda got distracted there. Oh yeah. Robby Staebler was looking for a band. He met guitarist Ben McLeod in a bar (remember when we could meet people in bars?) and then met aspiring drama student Charles Michael Parks Jr. when he took a job at “a corporate hippie store”. Parks Jr. turned those theatre aspirations into being a great frontman and bass player. The band rounded out their membership with Allan Van Cleave, a friend of Staebler, on keys. All Them Witches took the inspiration for their name from the set-prop book entitled All of Them Witches in the 1968 Roman Polanski Spawn-of-Satan movie Rosemary’s Baby.
Let’s get something else out of the way: Yes, I said Nashville Tennesee. The Buckle of the Bible Belt. The Protestant Vatican. The Athens of the South. The Hot Chicken Capital. Yes, the self-proclaimed Music City is perennially associated with Country music, Gospel music and, to a lesser extent, contemporary Christian Rock. There is a Jazz scene. There are active Barbershop groups. The city is the home of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Hee Haw was shot there. It is a city that, until a few decades ago, still had strong ties to the Confederacy.
How the hell did a Stoner Rock band start there?
Quickly, that’s how.
The band were officially formed in February of 2012 (remember when that year was supposed to be the end of the world? C’mon, Mayans, if you really meant 2020 why didn’t you just say 2020?) and released their first album, Our Mother Electricity, on December 6th, 2012. Being from Nashville, the album was of course released on the German heavy psych label Elektrohasch Schallplatten. So just so we’re clear: Stoner Rock was born in the California Desert and then adopted by a band from Tennessee and released on a German label. I just have one question: Where the fuck is Carmen Sandiego?
To be fair, All Them Witches characterized their debut sound as being ‘psychedelta rock’...which kinda sounds like a knock off version of an X-Man. The album is full of heavy jams. Listeners can expect to hear the influence of the blues mixed with deep fuzz and highly compressed vocals. Until it Unwinds is over eight minutes of rolling swagger that will have you thinking about 50 Million Year Trip. Heavy/Like a Witch has some definite Stone Temple Pilots vibes and is a great opener. The true standout on the album is The Urn, a dark and twisted fable that is really the antithesis of everything one associates with music in the Bible Belt. The album was a declaration of war on everything cheery and pleasant to be found in the Music City, and a bold statement from a band finding its feet.
The band were not entirely happy with the production on Our Mother Electricity. In order to assert themselves, they went ultra low-tech. The released the Extra Pleasant EP in July of 2013. It was recorded on a 4-track cassette tape using only two microphones. Production-wise, it is a step back - but when you listen to it on headphones, you can appreciate the raw talent. It is a weird low-fi follow up and almost like listening to a debut rather than the first album. Listening to this EP is like hearing a Pink Floyd cover band’s first original songs that have been mashed up with Clutch and recorded on an iPhone 4. Even with those limitations, tracks like Sludger will stay with you and are worth your time.
While their first two releases had some modest success, All Them Witches really did not get widespread acclaim until the release of their second full album, Lightning at the Door, in late 2013. Every band that has ever released anything on Bandcamp wants to experience the kind of underground word-of-mouth sensation that this album generated. The album is part-concept, part-thematic and has narrative threads that tie it together (e.g. the two tracks The Marriage of Coyote Woman and The Death of Coyote Woman - clearly, not a happy ending for the titular character). If you loved Songs for the Deaf and Rated R, then this is the album that you are going to want to start with as an introduction to the band. It has some amazing tracks - Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird and When God Comes Back are great on their own - but it is best experienced as a complete album. Do yourself a favor: Find a great set of headphones and listen to it front to back. You’ll thank me.
How do you follow up a concept album that gives you unforeseen popularity and access to a broader audience? Do you, say, create a dark follow-up to it, and find the title for that album in a lyric from a hidden track?
Who the fuck would make a weird choice like that?
All Them Witches took a different route and decided to instead channel their inner Beck. The Effervescent EP came out in June of 2014. There are only two songs, each clocking in at about 25 minutes long. Side A is Effervescent and Side B is Tnecsevreffe. The EP is a Rorschach blot of instrumental music in multiple movements that channels incredible musicality and allows you to superimpose your own meaning on it. It is like listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin have a baby, if that baby was raised listening to coyotes howl and instrumental Kyuss tracks all mashed together on one continuous loop. Fans of the German band Mother Engine will hear definite parallels. The weird thing about Effervescent is its length: it is hard to think of it as an EP, because it is 50 minutes of music. But it has only two tracks, so it can’t really be an album...can it?
Yes, before you start in on me, I know about Sleep’s Dopesmoker. That 2003 one-song album may also have influenced our boys from the Hee Haw city.
So after playing around with longer and more intricate multiple-movement songs, it is no surprise that All Them Witches dropped a 57 minute ‘EP’ in 2015. A Sweet Release hit the airwaves on April 20. Yep, 4/20. No, that was not a coincidence. No, I’m not going to explain that to you. If you gotta ask, you’ll never know. Yes, if anyone doubted at all that this band was a Stoner Rock band, fuck all y’all, the release date is proof. Tracks on the EP range in length from almost 2 and a half minutes to over 24 minutes. It is a spacey, laid-back jam that is at times hypnotic and far-reaching, and equally urgent and immersive.
I’m not saying that you need to be high to appreciate this EP. I’m just saying that listening to Interstate Bleach Party and Howdy Hoodee Slank in the right…mood ...can make you see the color Octarine.
Lightning at the Door and Effervescent cemented All Them Witches as true underground masters of Stoner Rock. 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker saw them broaden their musical scope and refine their sound. The album (yes, it is an album this time) leans heavily into the Blues with layers of grunge and psychedelia and celtic strings and even harmonicas. (Side note: the last time I heard harmonicas used in Stoner Rock was never. So good on them. I will say this: the hook brings you back.) All these influences were mixed in one big bowl and smoked out the top of a giant bong for full effect. It is at the same time a more technical and more mellow album. Stand out tracks on the album are the hard hitting Dirt Preachers and El Centro and This is Where it Falls Apart.
All Them Witches found themselves touring the small club circuit and then playing bigger and bigger stages. They got invited to festivals like Bonnaroo and were greeted by enthusiastic fans (and clouds of fragrant haze). There is nothing like performing live to hone a band’s edge. By the time Sleeping Through the War dropped in 2017, the boys had been together, touring and recording, for five years. The album is tightly crafted by a tight band. There are even guest vocalists to add texture and harmony to the songs. Less mellow than its predecessor, the album roars right from the opening track - Bulls - through to the closing track, Guess I’ll Go Live On The Internet. 3-5-7 is probably one of the best Stoner Rock tracks you will come across. And when you recognize the tonal mirroring of Am I Going Up with Alabaster, you feel smarter than you actually are. Lots of albums have made me bang my head; very few have made me stop and recognize the musical structure that underpins the melody. That is Tool-level composition right there. Long story short: this is an album put out by a band in its prime and it does not disappoint.
If you remember what happened in English class, what follows the apotheosis for the main character is the falling action or denouement. All Them Witches had peaked with Sleeping Through the War and had nowhere to go but down. The 2018 Lost and Found EP was four (comparatively) short covers and remixes that seemed more like leftovers than an actual meal. Sure, leftovers can be tasty, but All Them Witches fans were used to getting new and better breakfasts, luncheons and dinners and instead got last Tuesday’s reheated bean burrito. Which is fine, if you dig burritos, but it is still not as good as a nice, juicy steak.
Goddam, is anyone else craving a meal? Why is it so smoky in here, and why do I want to eat burritos and Doritos?
Hehe. Dorito. Burrito.
Fuck. I need to focus. Moving on.
Any fan of the band could tell that something was up, and that Lost and Found was at best a B-Side. It soon became evident that something really was up. Keyboardist (and part-time violinist) Allan Van Cleave was out of the band. This left a gigantic Ray Manzarek-esque hole in the band’s sound. The breakup was not a good one, and left some scars.
Van Cleave was replaced by Jonathan Draper, and the band released the album ATW in Sept of 2018. Sonically, the album is sound, but seems to lack the spark of greatness that was in everything prior to Lost and Found. The technical skills are there - Draper knows his way around a keyboard, and that is clearly evident on Fishbelly 86 Onions - but it kinda (IMHO) sounds more like an amazing All Them Witches cover album than an actual effort by the band. It is kinda like Bryan Cranston dressing up in a Walter White mask. It is super close to previous efforts but just not the same, somehow. 1st vs. 2nd is a jam and so is Diamond, and the album has an unrelenting energy, but it is just a bit off the mark.
The band must have felt something similar. Draper was turfed from the group just a month after ATW dropped. Instead of trying to recreate the four member sound that had anchored them since John Cusak and Amanda Peet’s landmark film, they decided to choose a new direction entirely.
When bands shuffle their lineup, it tends to be adding members (like our very own ancient monarchs) or replacing members. Very few bands successfully delete members. Well, OK, that band from Liverpool did successfully delete Stuart Sutcliffe from its lineup and they went on to do alright. Genesis made a successful transition from a 4-piece to a 3-piece when Peter Gabriel left. Oasis got 100% better when Liam Gallagher and his ego both quit. But losing an integral part of your sound - and the keyboards were central in so many songs - would be a tough transition. The band’s fanbase-not-so secretly worried that the lack of keyboardist would spell the end. Thankfully, we were wrong.
All Them Witches took that leap. Digging into their nomenclature and lore, they released a single as a three-piece band on Halloween of 2019. 1X1 is an angry, powerful Stoner Rock jam with a video that is an homage to Jesus Christ Pose. It is a Kyuss-meets-Tool-meets-Led Zeppelin-at-a-Black-Sabbath-concert song that made everyone simultaneously applaud and exhale.
They were back.
The new LP Nothing as the Ideal just dropped on September 4th, 2020. It is a leaner, meaner iteration of the band that seems to have lost no momentum. Everything resonates with power. Saturnine and Iron Jaw evokes Tony Iommi riffage. The Children of Coyote Women is a direct callback to the album Lightning at the Door. 41 is a thumping tune and Enemy of my Enemy is a relentless sonic attack. But most importantly, we get to see All Them Witches evolve as a band but hang on to the core of their sound.
You’re never going to hear this band on your local top 40 radio station. You might catch them on College radio, if the DJ is cool enough. Like most great music nowadays, you have to go looking to find it. But when you do find it, what an amazing experience it can be.
So now you have completed your Hero’s Journey (Twist! It turns out that YOU were the hero all along!) According to the trope, you are now older and wiser because you have ventured out of your comfortable little world.
Now prove me right, hero. Go listen and awaken your inner stoner. And bring me some goddamn Doritos. Cool Ranch for the win.
Links to QOTSA
Josh has included All Them Witches on The Alligator Hour and is known to be a fan of the band.
A recent review of Nothing as the Ideal stated that Charles Michael Parks Jr.’s voice was “Fantastic...like a bassier Josh Homme”.
More importantly, All Them Witches are a Stoner Rock band...and Josh literally invented the genre. It is clear that while the band has grown and evolved and are taking themselves to new places, their music has been inspired by that downtuned, low desert Kyuss groove.
Their Music
Until it Unwinds
Heavy/Like a Witch
The Urn
Extra Pleasant EP
The Marriage of Coyote Woman
Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird
When God Comes Back -- Live and badass
Effervescent
Interstate Bleach Party
Howdy Hoodee Slank
Dirt Preachers -- Live in 2016
El Centro
This is Where it Falls Apart
Bulls
3-5-7
Fishbelly 86 Onions
1st vs. 2nd
Diamond
Under Pressure -- yes, that song.
Open Passageways
Diamond
1X1
The Children of Coyote Woman
Enemy of my Enemy
Show Them Some Love
/AllThemWitches
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Them Crooked Vultures
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