Hull, Sole Lord: Adventures in Mythology

Pyramid scheme.Though I?ve followed Brooklyn doomers Hull since their humble beginnings paralleling the demise of other loud-as-fuck amp-mongers Reservoir, from whence several members came, and was glad to see them clearly making a run for it (whatever ?it? is in this genre) with their Viking Funeral demo in 2007, my initial impression of their The End Records debut, Sole Lord, was far from favorable. In contrast to their earlier work?s penchant for riding out heavy grooves and grinding listeners into $7 guacamole, the album seemed meandering and over-thought. A sonic diversity played out over the 10 tracks that, instead of holding my attention, only annoyed me at how hard the five-piece was trying to fit into the modern thinky thinky set of metallers.

It was really only out of some sense of allegiance/courtesy to the band (impartiality is a farce) that I bothered with another listen, and having heard accolades for Sole Lord since its release in May from sources whose opinions I respect, I tried to listen for something missed the first time around. Sometimes it?s just a mood. You hear a record under a given set of circumstances — feel shitty, don?t want to listen, are tired, distracted, whatever — and it ruins the whole thing. After another few times through, I still feel as though Hull spent too much time on the other stuff (Josh Graham artwork, narrative linking together the lyrics in the liner notes) and that their drive to vary their sound takes away from the heaviness of which they?re capable, rather than enhancing it via contrast. Structurally, the album follows a pattern of two larger pieces broken into individual tracks with an interlude between, and though it works, the concept overburdens the music, and with some awkward sub-technical transitions, comes off disjointed where it should flow openly.

Everybody have a seat. (Photo by Markus Shaffer)In addition, Hull recording their own vocals was a mistake. I highly support self-sufficiency in bands as regards both making and distributing records, but no producer with an ear worth a damn would have let the obviously capable voices demonstrated on the cumbersomely-titled ?Born from Flesh and Stone, Movement 6: Healer? out of the mixing process as dry as they are. Throw some reverb on there and they?re perfect, and it?s a problem highlighted by the Torche-style semi-harmonizing throughout the five movements on ?Born from Flesh and Stone,? but persistent throughout. One imagines after the success of Sole Lord, Hull will move on to work with a bigger name producer for their sophomore outing (Andrew Schneider being the first Brooklyn local who comes to mind, or Sanford Parker if they feel like traveling), so it probably won?t be an issue next time, but for now, whether it?s out of a desire for aural clarity or just a lapse in judgment, on an album otherwise so carefully considered, it?s a lapse in judgment made all the more apparent by the surrounding musical complexity.

Nonetheless, I remain a Hull fan and hopeful for their next opus. Perhaps with some of the need to prove themselves out of the way, they?ll be able to relax into their sound and pursue a less manic approach. In any case, they?re clearly a band ?on the rise? and one to watch for in the years to come, and for whatever it?s worth, I wish them nothing but the best.

Hull on MySpace

The End Records

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