Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 1: Turned to Fire

howling giant black hole space wizard part 1

[Stream Howling Giant’s Black Hole Space Wizard Part 1 EP in full by clicking play above. EP is out this Friday, Aug. 12.]

The cumbersomely but somehow appropriately titled EP, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 1, from progressive heavy rockers/metallers Howling Giant is not their first short release, but it nonetheless represents a beginning, as its number would indicate. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the self-releasing outfit are working with a strong narrative thread running through the four included tracks — “Mothership,” “Exodus: Earth,” “Dirtmouth” and “Clouds of Smoke” — and they’ve constructed a plotline that plays to the different mood in each song. All told, the EP runs a little under 22 minutes, so it’s a relatively quick in and out, but guitarist/vocalist Tom Polzine, bassist/vocalist Roger Marks, drummer/vocalist Zach Wheeler and organist/synthesist Drew Harakal (who does not play with the band live) cover a surprising amount of ground during that time, giving listeners a glimpse a range that by no means seems to be done growing.

Each cut brings a personality and identity of its own that the storyline then plays to, describing the glorious ascent and ultimate destruction of mankind and maybe everything else that leaves a single survivor on Earth as the music careens between the Dead Roots Stirring-era Elder-style melodicism and winding riffage of opener “Mothership” to the organ-laced final build and crash of “Clouds of Smoke.” Along the way the changes are stark but in a way that makes sense given the narrative context and the progressive scope of the release, and rather than simply jump around between aesthetics, Howling Giant do an effective job of tying together the varied vibes in song structure and lyrics.

In short, they take what would otherwise be a collection of four somewhat disparate tracks — the shifts are stark, but not outlandish — and turn it into a journey for the listener. 22 minutes is about as long as half-hour tv episodes are these days sans commercials, so maybe it’s fair to think of Black Hole Space Wizard Part 1 like a teleplay with four acts that would presumably make the band’s prior 2015 four-tracker a pilot testing the waters for this season-one-episode-one release. And whether or not Howling Giant continue the series or their interests and whims take them elsewhere, their journey is cohesive, flourish of organ adding depth to the riff in “Mothership” initially and then stepping back to make room for the massive grooving crash that ends the track and leads into the start of “Exodus: Earth,” which turns to slower, more nodding, fuzzier fare that seems intended to hypnotize as much as engage as did “Mothership” before it.

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They prove quickly that they can do the one just as well as the other. That kind of becomes a running theme as well for Black Hole Space Wizard Part 1 in that the band doesn’t ever set foot onto territory where they aren’t immediately at home. Could come from confidence of execution, could be a product of the recording situation — the EP is self-produced — but as “Exodus: Earth” shifts into proggier roll with voiceover narration, there is no change in the level of poise they show or the command they wield over the performance. That remains true through “Dirtmouth” and especially “Clouds of Smoke” as well.

More intense from the very start, “Dirtmouth” is also the shortest of the tracks at 4:28 and aside from highlighting Marks‘ formidable bass-tone, it digs into a straightforward, thrashier gallop in the vein of a fuzzier High on Fire or even early C.O.C., classic mosh riff and all. Of course, they do this while also keeping the tone and progressive edge they brought to “Mothership” and “Exodus: Earth,” but it’s another clear change in focus, and another crisp execution that could’ve just as easily fallen flat. After “Dirtmouth” returns to its intro to finish out, “Clouds of Smoke” starts in quietly with spacious guitar that calls to mind some of Devin Townsend‘s more restorative moments, and unfolds patiently into a smooth rhythm topped by harmonized vocals and a linear build that will pushes into a solo section that provides the apex for the EP as a whole before ending with a last ringout of fading organ.

Of the elements shown throughout, perhaps it’s the patience of the closer that’s the most telling about the band overall, since it speaks to the consciousness at work behind their output, but that shouldn’t necessarily undercut the spectrum they cover across these four songs, which is significant, sets up a flow between them and still gives an EP-style sampling of what Howling Giant can accomplish stylistically going forward and working off the exposition of this first episode.

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3 Responses to “Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 1: Turned to Fire”

  1. […] HOWLING GIANT is what happens when three nerds write about space travel, doomed seafarers, and a sentient android hellbent for a camel killing death crusade. HOWLING GIANT plays self-indulgent, drop-tuned, fuzzed out riffs that could curdle milk. With the release of their upcoming EP ‘Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1′ due out on August 12th, the fuzz rockers from Nashville, TN have teamed up withTheObelisk.net for the full stream premiere of their EP here. […]

  2. […] Stream Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 here. […]

  3. […] out on August 12th, the fuzz rockers from Nashville, TN have teamed up with TheObelisk.net for the full stream premiere of their EP. ‘Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1’ was produced by HOWLING GIANT, mixed by […]