Try these lyrics for size, if you will… “Robotic claw/circular saw/I’ll tear your face to shreds”…
Hmmm – sound familiar? Maybe something from the twisted mind of Rob Halford circa 1982? Or perhaps a long thought lost Cannibal Corpse outtake? No, no, and thrice no… these pearls of sadistic wisdom have actually been plucked from the triumphant new album by Nashville psyche-metallers Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds. And a finer album you’ll be hard pressed to find all year, let me tell you…
Now, despite these very metal lyrics, and the presence on bass of the son of Accept four stringer Peter Baltes, Sebastian, Howling Giant actually present a far more cerebral picture than you might expect. Those words I ripped out of context at the start of this review find their home in Cybermancer and The Doomsday Express, a track that actually bears more resemblance to energised garage rock from the sixties than ripping metal from the eighties. They are a fiendishly eclectic mob, these boys; and though psyche rock is almost certainly where they are going to find themselves pigeonholed by lazy reviewers like me the world over, there is more – so much more – to this band, who resolutely morph throughout every single track on the album, rendering any solid form of classification pointless.
So occasionally a flicker of Floyd flashes past, or a little reminder of Rush; Big blocks of Blue Öyster Cult often bludgeon the senses, too, especially when the voices of Baltes, guitarist Tom Polzine and drummer Zach Wheeler hit peal harmony as the band leave no stone unturned to tell their tales of psychic warfare and nefarious otherworldly doings.
It’s a swirling, maelstromic miasma of majestic proportions, the music sounding as big as the universes described in the lyrics. Tracks like penultimate slow burner The Orb test the listener at every turn; not because they make for painful listening, bur rather they are so heavily nuanced that it takes a keen ear to keep up with everything that’s going on. This is satisfying stuff on every level imaginable, a record that really does reward every return visit the listener makes with new discoveries.
Fans at the heavier end of the Sentinel Daily spectrum might occasionally find themselves yearning for a little more heft in the riff department, but other than that it’s hard to put the finger on any group of the populace who consider themselves to be fans of intelligent, supremely executed that TSBW won’t appeal to in some way or another. We often comment that this or that band seem to have all the bases covered in their music; few have actually done that so comprehensively as Howling Giant on this release; and whilst I’ll stop short of calling this record perfect, it’s damn hard to come up with anything resembling a harsh word either. Marvellous stuff.
The Space Between Worlds is out on September 27th. Make sure you snare yourself a copy.