Foghound, The World Unseen: Message in the Sky (Plus Full Album Stream)

foghound the world unseen

[Click play above to stream Foghound’s The World Unseen in full. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music.]

Originally set for a Spring release, The World Unseen is the second full-length from Baltimorean four-piece Foghound after 2013’s Quick, Dirty and High (review here). It’s also their first offering through Ripple Music, and like a lot of productions in which Mike Dean has a hand — he produced here along with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand and the band itself — one can hear some C.O.C. in a song like “Serpentine,” but in the context of the record as a whole, that becomes only one element at the band’s disposal.

Shades of fellow Marylanders Clutch, of a roughed-up Fu Manchu and of Alabama Thunderpussy‘s Southern edge show up, but primarily what’s happening in The World Unseen is Foghound are establishing their own style with those influences as a foundation. They do Baltimore proud in that, and over the course of its 10 tracks/43 minutes, the album offers a force of delivery well beyond that of the debut. The sound is tighter, the performances crisper, and the production sharper. Not that Quick, Dirty and High didn’t have its hard-hitting side, but The World Unseen sees each member of Foghound turning in the same direction and heading forward at breakneck speed, and the result is strong, clearheaded heavy rock and roll like “Message in the Sky” or “Rockin’ and Rollin’,” songs executed with no pretense of wanting to do anything more than kick ass and have a good time doing it.

More complex vocal arrangements also help bring out more of Foghound‘s sonic identity, drummer Chuck Dukehart and guitarist Bob Sipes splitting the bulk of the lead duties while also backing each other complemented by guitarist Dee Settar. Bassist Jim Forrester rounds out the lineup this time around, making a considerable impression under the guitar fuzz of “Truth Revealed,” and fitting well in Foghound alongside his former Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate Dukehart, who belts out his vocals with similar a physicality to how he hits his drums — a full-body process. The record starts off innocently enough with the roll of “Above the Wake,” one of three songs to hit five minutes with the later “Truth Revealed” and closer “Never Return,” but builds intensity as it moves toward each of its choruses, its loose groove tightening amid a flurry of guitar leads and rhythmic push.

foghound (Photo by Rock and Roll Socialite)

The next two songs, “Message in the Sky” and “Serpentine,” help define a large portion of The World Unseen‘s personality, moving fast, making an impact and wasting zero time. Efficient, catchy and on the beat, they’re paired well together for the hooks they proffer, but all the more so because the more swinging “Serpentine” also provides a more flowing transfer into “On a Roll,” which has a nod straight off The Action is Go and a lyric about blasting off into space, just in case the classic stoner rock vibe wasn’t apparent enough. It was, but the song is almost maddeningly well written, and also the shortest at just over three minutes, so it’s not like it’s overstaying its welcome. “Give up the Ghost” recalls Down in its sung/spoken vocals and its style of riff, but by the time it arrives, Foghound have already established themselves as able to draw these things together to suit their own purposes, and they do likewise to close side A.

A more fervent thrust resumes with “Rockin’ and Rollin’,” which seems like as much a mission statement as anything else, another track that wastes no time getting to its point and offering another driving verse and memorable hook, put to good use, but “Truth Revealed” provides counterbalance with a more laid back groove, highlighting the tone in Sipes and Settar‘s guitars as a blown-out vocal tops as atmospheric accompaniment. They pick up the tempo for the last measure or two, but the prevailing feel is still less insistent, and the spacier instrumental “Bridge of Stonebows” follows up on that and pushes it further with subdued guitar, punctuating drum thud and rumbling bass that speaks to something foreboding but bittersweet, a solo in the second half a standout moment for its fluidity amid the build behind it. The side B interlude doesn’t so much derail the considerable momentum the band has built up to that point, but it does broaden and shift the overarching feel of the album, giving the return to a more straightforward approach on “Street Machine” a different context than it would have coming out of, say, “Truth Revealed” or one of the other tracks.

So be it. “Street Machine” remains catchy in the spirit of “On a Roll” and leads to “Never Return,” which makes a fitting enough finale but one can only hope isn’t prophetic in some way about the band itself. Its chugging riff, mid-paced push and larger sense of space come with lyrical escapism, but for what it’s worth, Foghound don’t sound like a group looking to make their end. Quite the opposite. They sound hungry, and when they return, it’ll be one to watch for, because while The World Unseen makes its primary impression in the quality of its songwriting and the tightness of its performances, it also showcases the real potential at heart in Foghound as they continue to develop. As a second full-length and a debut for this lineup, it marks an arrival for sure — almost for Ripple Music as much as the band itself — but it also feels like another step in a larger process of growth still to play out.

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One Response to “Foghound, The World Unseen: Message in the Sky (Plus Full Album Stream)”

  1. […] “The World Unseen sees each member of Foghound turning in the same direction and heading forward at breakneck speed, and the result is strong, clearheaded heavy rock and roll… songs executed with no pretense of wanting to do anything more than kick ass and have a good time doing it.” -JJ Koczan, The Obelisk (full review here) […]

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