Howling Giant Announce East Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

howling giant

As they prepare to take the stage this August at Psycho Las Vegas, Nashville progressive heavy rockers Howling Giant have announced a round of tour dates for May supporting their 2017 release, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (review here). What was, of course, a sequel to 2016’s Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (review here) and also followed 2015 self-titled helped the trio further their case for a more expansive sound. Still reveling in the occasional forward groove and off-kilter moment, the songs showed a growing sense of sonic persona that, contrary to what one might expect, did not make the sequel seem weak in comparison to the original.

Will there be a third installment of Black Hole Space Wizard, and if so, when? How the hell should I know. Why don’t you go to one of these gigs and ask the band yourself? Sheesh.

Tour details from the PR wire:

howling giant tour poster

HOWLING GIANT Hit the Road

Nashville riff-psych trio take their DIY sci-fi heaviness on northeast US tour in May, debut new Pink Floyd homage in advance of release alongside Melvins, Pallbearer, ASG, Mark Lanegan.

This May, Howling Giant heads back on tour in support of their latest self-released record, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2 (August 2017), with stops throughout the northeast and a coveted slot at Psycho Las Vegas to close out the summer.

To launch this run of dates with due fanfare, Howling Giant will preview their futuristic update of early Pink Floyd obscurity Matilda Mother, which Magnetic Eye Records will include as part of its colossal The Wall [Redux] / Best of Pink Floyd release extravaganza that has been building in scope and anticipation since early 2017 and features a range of new scenesters and established heavyweights.

Formed by three self-proclaimed nerds, Howling Giant is a perfect marriage between pulpy sci-fi themes and blistering riff-prog. Fans of Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, early Baroness and Summoner will immediately latch on to Howling Giant’s spaced-out, cosmically-informed songcraft, with lyrics spanning sea voyages to space flight, not to mention androids with a bloodlust for camels (because, again, why not?).

Howling Giant on tour in May:

5.10 – Chicago IL @ Reggies
5.11 – Cincinnati OH @ Cameleon Pizza
5.12 – Pittsburgh PA @ Howler’s
5.13 – Buffalo NY @ Mohawk Place
5.14 – Off
5.15 – TBA
5.16 – Easthampton MA @The Ohm
5.17 – TBA
5.18 – Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
5.19 – York PA @ The Depot
5.20 – Frederick MD @ Guido’s
5.21 – Off
5.22 – Baltimore @ The Depot
5.23 – Washington DC @ Atlas Brew Works
5.24 – Raleigh NC @ Slim’s
5.25 – Wilmington VA @Reggies 42nd Street Tavern
5.26 – Asheville NC @ Sly Grog
August 17-19 – Psycho Last Vegas

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Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (2017)

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Review & Track Premiere: Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

howling-giant-black-hole-space-wizard-part-2

[Click play above to stream ‘Circle of Druids’ from Howling Giant’s Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2. EP is out Aug. 25 and available to preorder on Bandcamp.]

At very least, we can be sure that by the time Nashville progressive metal/heavy rockers Howling Giant finish telling the story that thus far spans their second and third EPs, they will have long since outgrown the goofball title they’ve given the series. In truth, the complexity and scope of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 might be a little undercut by the stoner-is-as-stoner-does banner it seems to fly, if only because someone who didn’t hear either the trio’s 2015 self-titled or last year’s Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (review here) could potentially too easily write it off based on superficialities and miss out on what’s actually a marked depth and individual purpose of craft.

Released almost precisely a year after its predecessor, its six tracks/31 minutes bring the self-releasing trio of guitarist/vocalist Tom Polzine, bassist/vocalist Roger Marks and drummer/vocalist Zach Wheeler to new levels of execution in their material, rife with wonderfully realized vocal harmonies, epic-feeling crescendos, and a still-weighted tonality that they seem to be able to move and shift according to whatever whim drives a given piece, whether it’s the introductory “Henry Tate” with its spoken-word vocals and the first of many guest key/synth contributions throughout from Drew Harakal beneath the first of many swirling, character-laden solos from Polzine, or the galloping apex that leads into a wide-breadth wash at the end of “Visions,” layers of effects swirl — and again, keyboard/synth from Harakal — coming to the forefront of the longest inclusion here at 7:39. Flirting with long-player flow in its front-to-back delivery and the fact that it’s 10 minutes longer than the installment prior, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 establishes Howling Giant‘s underlying commitment to developing their approach and benefits from a quickly and righteously burgeoning stylistic reach.

Because it’s a chapter in a (presumably ongoing) series, one looks for consistencies with what’s come before as well as the growth so plain to hear in the material. And it’s there in the overall sonic take and in some of the intensity of the prog-metal cascade in “The Pioneer” or the penultimate highlight “Circle of Druids,” as well as in the sung harmonies, but there isn’t an element present that doesn’t seem to have moved willfully forward from where the band was a year ago. While they may be working in the same narrative, based around the end of civilization and the adventures of the last remaining human (dubbed “The Pioneer”) among future-mystical presences — last time the Space Wizard, this time the Earth Wizard, as manifest in the closer of the same name — even down to its basic structure as mirrored sides A and B each with an introductory piece, shorter middle cut and longer finale, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 simply has more to offer than what was already an impressive display in songwriting.

howling giant

Arrangement flourish brings a complementary baritone sax guest appearance from Kim Wheeler on the interlude/side B intro “The Forest Speaks” that picks up alongside acoustic pluck and leads gently into “Circle of Druids,” and as much momentum as Polzine, Marks, Wheeler and Harakal — the latter of whom apparently recorded in Texas but might need to relocate and actually join this band given what the organ and synth add to the tracks here — build throughout “Henry Tate,” the low-end fuzz roll of the early verses and ending of “The Pioneer” and the precise, all-class linearity of “Visions,” they remain likewise committed to broadening the palette of their aesthetic and if one thinks of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 as an EP and thus a showcase of where Howling Giant are in the inevitable march toward a first full-length, one would be remiss to think of them as anything but ready for that crucial next step.

Whether or not that’s actually where Howling Giant are directly headed — that is, if they’ll do an LP next or follow this Part 2 with a Part 3 EP — I don’t know, but on a creative level, they bring a vibrant persona to these tracks enough to give the impression that their evolution will continue in either context. Beginning with a quick spoken intro, “Circle of Druids” launches from out of “The Forest Speaks” and unfolds to an especially satisfying blend of chugging riffery and a wide-open payoff hook, underscored by Wheeler‘s double-kick and given/needing few frills around its basic structure. Like some of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1, it reminds a bit of Devin Townsend‘s heavier progressive metallurgy, but ultimately proves more distinct, and “Earth Wizard” effectively follows in dropping the tempo to hit a balance like a more straightforward vision of what Ancestors brought to their 2012 triumph, In Dreams and Time.

This initial patience gradually shifts into a fuller charge in “Earth Wizard”‘s back half, which feels somewhat inevitable, but the finale is both earned and once more plays to the notion of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 as a kind of proto-full-length in its overarching fluidity. As the last vestiges of guitar and synth fade out to bring the EP to its end, the sense is still one of being a shorter release, but if that means Howling Giant are leaving their audience wanting more of the arc coming to life in their tracks, then that only bodes well for a next outing, whatever form it might take. Likewise, one has to acknowledge that while the title might just as likely turn a given listener off as on when it comes to taking up Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2, its goofballery also stands as a signal of an abiding lack of pretense that extends to the songwriting as well. That is, while their arrangements are thought out, their performances clear-headed and impeccably mixed, the corresponding quotient of self-indulgence is remarkably low for something so progressive. If the tradeoff for that is a silly name, it’s a small price to pay — sometimes it’s fun to have fun — and for those who do decide to dig into Howling Giant‘s third EP, the rewards are no less expansive than the band’s sound itself.

Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (2017)

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