Meatbodies‘ self-titled debut album showed off the raging guitar skills of Chad Ubovich, a guy who cut his rock & roll teeth as a member of Ty Segall‘s band, Mikal Cronin‘s band, and his project with Segall, Fuzz. Stepping out on his own with Meatbodies, the sound was in place — thick slabs of fuzzy guitars, tight bass and drum attacks, and whiny, garage punk vocals — but the songs weren’t quite able to hold up their end of the bargain. Now, on Meatbodies‘ second album, Alice, the sound is even more impressively mighty and the songs are too. Working with guitarist Patrick Nolan and bassist Kevin Boog, Ubovich concocts a sticky heavy metal garage sound, layering dinosaur-heavy distorted guitars over hazily strummed acoustic guitars, plugging in wigged-out solos and monster riffs as the rhythm section pounds and roils along in perfect sync. Even if the songs were weak, the intense power of the music would carry Alice along. Fortunately, the songs are quite strong. This is a concept album of some kind, revolving around creatures, angels, life, death and that kind of stuff, and while the meaning is lost somewhere in the smoking amps and hissing cymbals, the individual tracks are all meaty, filling slices of memorable guitar-bashing rock & roll. Ubovich tosses in all kind of hooks, musical and lyrical, making every song more than just a bashed-out rocker. Most of them give his former bosses a run for their money in unbridled energy and powerful pop melody. Segall would be glad to have tracks like “Creature Feature” in his repertoire; Cronin may have written a folk-pop ballad as psychedelically sweet as “Alice,” but not a better one. Elsewhere, the songs make a case that Meatbodies could open for Black Sabbath and not make old-time metal fans unhappy (“Disciples”), could play back to back with the best psych bands of their age and not sound out of place (“Touchless”), or deliver a track good enough to make you forget that Ubovich was in Segall‘s employ. One spin of “Kings” and it seems like maybe Segall should be backing Ubovich instead. Alice is a major step forward for Meatbodies and one of the better garage punk/heavy metal/psychedelic rock albums anyone is likely to hear in 2017. Maybe even one of the best in recent memory, certainly as good as anything Ty Segall has done, and that is high praise indeed.