BoneHawk & Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three: Carousers and Revelers

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It would seem that as Ripple Music‘s split series presses forward in number it’s doing likewise in sound. As well it should. The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three once again brings together two acts on a single LP, two bands in the earlier stages of their career but who each seem to be working toward making a stylistic mark.

Topped off as were the prior editions (and reportedly all those still to come) with artwork by Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, this next installment in the ambitiously-titled run pairs Michigan heavy rockers BoneHawk and Swedish semi-cultist harmonizing newcomers Kingnomad, who represent the biggest geographic leap The Second Coming of Heavy has yet taken — they’re the first non-US band to be featured — and a coinciding stylistic shift, nestling as they do into a storytelling laid back fuzz never quite given to boogie rock, but definitely taking some cues from that scene as well as garage doom, finding a place between the two almost immediately and residing there comfortably until the jammy trip-out on closer “The Suicide King.” For them, this represents the first physical release they’ve had since getting together, and for BoneHawk, their four songs here provide a follow-up to their well-received 2014 debut LP, Albino Rhino, of which Ripple also did a pressing earlier this year.

The two bands share little in common tonally or conceptually apart from a basic affinity for riffs, but those who’ve followed The Second Coming of Heavy through its first two chapters with Geezer and Borracho (review here) and Supervoid and Red Desert (review here) should come into this matchup with fairly open expectations. Thus far,¬†Ripple has done well in finding complementary but still distinct acts.

Prior to this, BoneHawk issued a Spring 2016 ¬†7″ honoring¬†Thin Lizzy, and right at the start of their first track on side A, “The Scout,” that vibe comes through in the dual guitars Matt Helt (also vocals) and Chad Houts (also backing vocals), who are joined in the immediate bounce and shuffle by bassist Taylor Wallace and drummer/backing vocalist Jay Rylander, though their tones are of course thicker and more purposefully fuzzed, and they owe perhaps more of their raucous, party-style vibe to Red Fang. That’s an easy tag these days for upbeat heavy rock bands, and I think Red Fang‘s reach is still expanding, but it’s by no means the end of the story for BoneHawk, who cast their identity in the classic rock interplay of guitar and remind of the also-predatory-fowl-minded Virginian troupe Freedom Hawk on second cut “Fire in the Sky,” which slows the roll from the opener a bit in order to bask in a smooth nod that comes not at the expense of a hook, but rather to enhance it.

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In terms of tempo, they play this back and forth twice, and in doing so demonstrate a clear attention to presentation that I would imagine extends to their live show as well. Either way, “Los Vientos” — driven by Rylander‘s creative drumming — revives the forward momentum of the opener while stepping away a bit from the party vibe of the opener, the energy of which is maintained through pacing but not necessarily mood. “Aurora,” their six-minute finale, starts with an introductory bassline from Wallace and digs into a fluidity marked by toy piano flourish in its chorus and and a funky groove in the second half that gives way to double-guitar freakery deftly brought back to earth before the ending fade.

An aesthetic shift is quick to perceive as Kingnomad‘s “Lucifer is Dead” lurches to life with warm-toned fuzz, laid back roll and vocals one might be tempted to call shoegazing were they not so intricately harmonized. They craft a hook around the title-line, and the song, which the band — guitarist/vocalist Mr. Jay, bassist Maximilian, guitarist Marcus and drummer Mr. N — has stated was the first thing they wrote together, explores these textures somewhere between Dead Meadow and the eerie melodicism of Ghost, but brings something rawer to it as well in the shuffling second half of the track and on the trippier fuzz of “Sibylline Oracles” as well.

More developed in terms of the two guitars working together, “Sibylline Oracles” also brings in an organ and ends with acoustic strum, so the growing reach of the band becomes evident barely 10 minutes into their half of the split, which can only serve them well going forward. “God of Stone and Sand” revels in its spacious tonality and imbues a classic stoner riff with a sense of individualized personality thanks to more harmonies in the vocals, while “The Suicide King,” as noted, steps back to let a jammier, more psychedelic feel take hold. Like BoneHawk before them, Kingnomad have crafted an easy flow to their portion of the LP, and much to their credit as a new band, they don’t give into the cliche of having “The Suicide King” set up for a linear build, showing patience and a will to let their songs go where they want to go.

Easy to get why Ripple would include both bands as they seek to expand the definition of the “heavy” whose coming they’re heralding, and as The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three rounds out, one looks forward even more to the next collection for the increase in scope this one represents. This second coming — and I’ve quibbled about the numerology in each of these reviews so far, so you’ll pardon me if I skip it this time — is only growing more multifaceted, like heavy rock itself.

BoneHawk & Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three (2016)

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