Copper Feast Records Announces Hidden Noise Wildfire Benefit Compilation out Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

In case you’ve forgotten how the world works, reality isn’t polite enough to wait for one global crisis to end before the next one begins, and though the media cycle spotlight worldwide may have moved on to brighter, shinier travesties, the fallout from Australia’s wildfires earlier this year is still being felt and will be for many years to come. Ecosystem damage like that doesn’t disappear in a day. Particularly when humans are involved. We suck at that stuff. Good destroyers, bad rebuilders.

Anyhoo, there are those who do what they can, and among them stand organizations like WIRES and the Australian Red Cross, who are the beneficiaries of Copper Feast Records‘ new compilation out March 27, titled Hidden Noise. Australia’s one-of-a-kind environment and wildlife can’t be replaced, or cloned by futures usses, and the planet needs that ecosystem and those animals now. And not to mention the cost to humanity too in lost homes, livelihoods and lives. If a comp with killer tracks by killer bands gets any dollars — Australian or otherwise — to those causes, then that’s only a good thing.

So here’s the info:

various artists hidden noise

Copper Feast Records – ‘Hidden Noise’ Charity Compilation

The world is on fire. Australia is on fire. Things will not get better until things change.

In late 2019 and early 2020, Australia was ravaged by bushfires which have destroyed vast expanses of its unique natural environment, pushing some species to the verge of extinction and causing the loss of many lives, livelihoods and homes. As our way of giving back, 100% of the profits from ‘Hidden Noise’ will be going to charity.

50% will be going to WIRES (www.wires.org.au)
50% will be going to The Australian Red Cross (www.redcross.org.au)

‘Hidden Noise’, a compilation from Copper Feast Records, showcases unreleased tracks from some of the best ‘hidden’ psych rock and stoner rock bands that Australia has to offer. In addition, a small number of previously released tracks from even more amazing bands completes the compilation.

Some of the artists that have contributed brand new songs include Planet of the 8s, Turtle Skull and The Black Heart Death Cult. We also have new mixes of existing tracks from the likes of Sleeping Giant and Narla.

The compilation title ‘Hidden Noise’ takes on a variety of different meanings in relation to this project. These are all Australian bands that are massively deserving of a greater following than they currently receive. Their music may be somewhat hidden for now, but I urge you to explore them all further. Albums, singles and even demos can be found on each band’s own Bandcamp page with links provided below.

‘Hidden Noise’ also references how at-risk persons and families have found their voice lost when requiring assistance before and after the bushfire crisis affecting the country. This is in addition to the vast number of wildlife voices that go unheard at this time as humans exploit their habitats causing their destruction.

Last but not least, the compilation title is in reference to the media obstruction and government inaction all over the world regarding climate change and the crisis affecting not only Australia, but every country in the world as a result of this.

We need change. Please enjoy the music and be a part of it.

narlamusic.bandcamp.com
theroyalartillery.bandcamp.com
planetofthe8s.bandcamp.com
turtleskullmusic.bandcamp.com
sonsofzoku.bandcamp.com
theblackheartdeathcult.bandcamp.com
cosmosmelbourne.bandcamp.com
numidia.bandcamp.com/releases
motemelbourne.bandcamp.com
theivoryelephant.bandcamp.com
footmelb.bandcamp.com
droiddoom.bandcamp.com
paulholden.bandcamp.com
sleepinggiantband.bandcamp.com

Thank you to all the artists above for their contribution and support to this project. Thank you to Carl Saff for ensuring such a broad-ranging sound compiled into one record sounds cohesive. Thank you to you, the listener, for your support.

https://copperfeastrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CopperFeastRecords/
https://copperfeastrecords.bandcamp.com/

Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted (2020)

Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant (2019)

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Child Post New Single “Free & Humble”; Announce Soul Merda LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

child

Lest one be accused of burying the lede, heavy blues rockers Child are doing dates in their native Australia this week with UK garage-doom forerunners Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. That’s a damn good show, but it’s not a show I’ll be fortunate enough to see, so you’ll pardon me if my self-involved self is more taken with the release of the new single “Free and Humble” from the Melbourne-based trio and the accompanying word of a third long-player, Soul Merda, of which it’s serving as a first four-minute taste. Sign me right up, and if you don’t know why immediately, just listen to the track.

Child haven’t brought out anything but classic-groove right-on-ness since their 2013 self-titled (discussed here), and if you caught wind of that LP, its 2016 follow-up, Blueside (review here), or their 2018’s I EP (review here), you already know that fact well. I’ll assume you have, and therefore turn you over as quickly as possible to the info and the new song, with the thought that, if you saw the headline that said “new Child track,” you’re probably not reading this shit anyway. And fair enough.

So here you go:

child free and humble

CHILD – Free & Humble

The wait is over! Australia’s premier heavy blues act CHILD have surprised us with the first single titled “Free and Humble” from their much anticipated third LP “Soul Merda”. The band have been on a short break since September 2019 and have announced that this album “will be the last from the CHILD you know”. It is not known whether this means the band is expanding, changing direction creatively or returning to the mothership. We do know that this is the beginning of an exciting new path for the band and listeners alike. Remember to stay “Free and Humble.”

Recorded to 2 inch tape by Nao Anzai at Head Gap Studios, Preston Victoria
Mixed and Mastered by Nao Anzai at Rolling Stock Studios, Collingwood Victoria.

“Ball and Chain” artwork by Les Elefant

CHILD Live with UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS:
Feb. 28 The Brightside Brisbane
Mar. 01 Factory Theatre Sydney
Mar. 03 Max Watts Melbourne
Mar. 04 The Gov Adelaide

CHILD is:
Mathias Northway – Vocals/Guitar
Michael Lowe – Drums/Percussion
Danny Smith – Bass Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/childtheband
https://www.instagram.com/childtheband/
http://www.childtheband.com
https://childtheband.bandcamp.com
https://www.youtube.com/childtheband
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/artist/child/

Child, “Free and Humble”

Child, I EP (2018)

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Foot Premiere “Green Embers” from The Balance of Nature Shifted out May 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

foot

Foot release their third album, The Balance of Nature Shifted, on May 1 through Copper Feast Records. The follow-up to the Melbourne-based progressive heavy rocking four-piece’s 2018 LP, Buffalo, it comprises a nine-track and 46-minute run conjured seemingly at the songwriting behest of guitarist/frontman Paul Holden, whose resonant vocal harmonies are an essential characteristic of the band’s approach that have never sounded so full or lush as they do here. Whether it is in the pastoralism of later “Manic Progression” or the full-on riff-fueled push of “Despair on Hope Street” and “E-Sports” at the outset, it’s an Alice in Chains comparison well earned as Holden singly brings together both sides of the Staley/Cantrell dynamic that once set an entire generation of rockers singing from the bottom of their mouth, while somehow retaining an identity of his own throughout.

The wall of fuzz surrounding his voice, from his own guitar as well as that of Dave Pemberton and the thickened tonality of bassist Shaun Stolk, is satisfyingly rich and remains so across The Balance of Nature Shifted, but with drummer Jack Eddie punctuating their undulations and the next chorus never too far off, the listener doesn’t at all get lost in the wash. Foot find a rare balance between aesthetic and craft so as to build on the identity they began to forge on their 2016 self-titled and hold to a largely similar purpose while realizing their form to a new degree of effectiveness and scope. Even the high-low guitar chug interplay on “Break the Altar (Light Shade)” and the solo that caps the three-and-a-half-minute “Ride it Out” tie into this sense of who Foot are and the complexity of the sonic mission they’ve undertaken to best serve their own material.

foot the balance of nature shiftedThey succeed in that outright, and it’s difficult to imagine a form of The Balance of Nature Shifted that is more realized than that which the band present. As “Green Embers” shifts from its moody beginning into the sheer largesse of riff that takes hold, lurching in a way that seems to immediately contradict the first two tracks before it, there’s nonetheless a sense of continuity and unfolding that takes place on the LP as a whole, a flow that continues in “Ride it Out” and the (I-wish-)pop(-was-this)-tinged centerpiece “Investment,” as Foot find room for added dynamic in volume trades for what’s their longest cut at 6:28. The only other piece that touches six minutes is closer “High,” which sets its foundation in the blend of melogrunge and fuzzgaze — or was that melogaze and fuzzgrunge? — that has been at the core of the proceedings all along, but patiently digs in its heels and offers one final look at the world the band have created throughout, melodic and encompassing, but hardly serene or still.

Movement can be found underneath “High,” as in even the comparatively minimal “Neighbours,” and as there to some degree is across the entire span, but Foot provide a sure guiding hand — pun absolutely intended — and let the structures of their songs do the work they’re supposed to do in terms of carrying the audience from one end to the other, front to back. Vinyl release will be later in the year, but in linear, digital form, The Balance of Nature Shifted casts an immersive totality of an impression, its melodies and harmonic accomplishment working as a distinguishing factor that’s only bolstered by the thoughtful perspective and rhythmic push surrounding, and even as its title and cover art hint at nature rising to undo the various efforts (which isn’t to say horrors) wrought by humanity, it reminds that there is still beauty to be found in a world of seemingly endless violence and decay.

There is more than an edge of psychedelia to Foot‘s songwriting, but that doesn’t come at the expense of craft, and isn’t necessarily primary to the band’s purpose. Rather, it feeds into the atmosphere of the songs themselves even as it emerges from the attention to detail that’s given to tone, to the methodical execution of pace, and the vibrant melodicism showcased in Holden‘s echoing layers of voice. Thus it becomes another element of the progressiveness of their take overall, rather than simply exploration for its own sake — though of course nothing against that either, and certainly in listening to Buffalo and Foot, the band are nothing if not willful in their forward creative evolution. The Balance of Nature Shifted bears the fruit of that mindful engagement.

It’s my pleasure to host the premiere of “Green Embers.” Please find it on the player below, followed by some comment from Holden on the track and more release info from the PR wire.

And please enjoy:

Paul Holden on “Green Embers”:

In relation to the musical side of “Green Embers,” I think around that point I had been listening to a lot of My Sleeping Karma for inspiration on different sonic textures and in particular, the world music characteristics contained in their songs. I approached the intro of the song with these concepts in mind.

The remainder of the song is a pretty straightforward fuzz rock song. I recorded the heavy riff through an Earthquaker Devices Hoof V2 Fuzz Pedal straight into a Sovtek head. I have always dug the contrast of a heavy riff combined with a clean harmonised vocal sound. You don’t always have to go hard with your vocal even if the band are going hard.

Lyrically, I wrote the tune after reading about the findings of a royal commission into the misconduct of the four biggest banks in Australia. It confirmed what we pretty much already knew which is multinational banks are completely fucking corrupt. It’s that unbridled greed thing, which remains a pretty obvious message throughout the rest of the record too.

‘The Balance of Nature Shifted’ is the follow-up to Foot’s acclaimed second album ‘Buffalo’ and is due for release digitally May 1 2020 with a vinyl release slated for August.

Foot take their well-honed desert rock sound one step further on ‘The Balance of Nature Shifted’, with songs going harder than they ever have before on a Foot record. Fans that were on board for their self-titled debut and follow-up ‘Buffalo’ are sure to be satisfied while newer audiences will love this classic blend of Queens of the Stone Age meets Alice in Chains.’

NOTE: Copper Feast Records will be releasing The Balance of Nature Shifted as a double vinyl later in mid-2020, featuring vinyl exclusive bonus tracks and demos from the recording process.

Foot are:
Paul Holden (Vox, Guitar)
Dave Pemberton (Guitar)
Shaun Stolk (Bass)
Jack Eddie (Drums)

Foot on Thee Facebooks

Foot on Bandcamp

Copper Feast Records on Thee Facebooks

Copper Feast Records on Instagram

Copper Feast Records on Bandcamp

Copper Feast Records BigCartel store

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Sleeping Giant Sign to Copper Feast Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Always like good news, and a previously-independently-issued album getting picked up for a vinyl release is almost always that. Certainly so in the case of Aussie three-piece Sleeping Giant, who put out their self-titled full-length (review here) this summer have have been snagged by Copper Feast Records for an LP edition. Actually, to be more specific, a couple LP editions, as there will apparently be different regional variants. The label, founded last year with releases from HorsehunterSchool Disco, Pseudo Mind Hive and LowFlyingHawks under its belt, has also apparently relocated to Australia, so getting a band like Sleeping Giant on board may be a sign of a burgeoning regional focus. Certainly plenty of Oz heavy to go around. It’s like they grow on trees down there.

Preorders start at the end of the month for Sleeping Giant‘s Sleeping Giant, and I’m not sure when the release will actually be or what the band’s plans are for after, but in the interim, like I said at the outset, a vinyl version is good news for platterhounds of all stripes.

Of course, the record’s also streaming at the bottom of this post, because it’s the future and we can do that here:

sleeping giant

Copper Feast Records – Sleeping Giant

Sound the alarm…it’s announcement time!

I’m beyond excited to welcome the brilliant Sleeping Giant to the Copper Feast family. At the end of the month, we will be opening up pre-orders for the first and only vinyl pressings of the self-titled debut LP from these Melbourne/Bendigo based stoner metal riffheads.

‘Sleeping Giant’ will be our first release since my relocation to Australia, which means that this fantastic album will be available in both Australia and the UK/EU in two region exclusive variants (details to follow later).

Having been around for nearly 6 years now, formerly under the name Lowpoint, ‘Sleeping Giant’ is an absolutely, absolutely killer intro to the band and well worth the wait! Some of the most crushing moments in stoner rock this year alongside some gorgeously mellow soundscapes…Melbourne’s done it again.

Sleeping Giant is:
Steven Hammer – Guitars/Vocals
James Wright – Bass
Pali Emond-Glenn – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/sleepinggiantband/
https://www.instagram.com/sleepinggiantband/
https://sleepinggiantband.bandcamp.com/
https://copperfeastrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CopperFeastRecords/

Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant (2019)

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Review & Track Premiere: Holy Serpent, Endless

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

holy serpent

[Click play above to stream ‘Hourglass’ from Holy Serpent’s Endless. Album is out Oct. 18 on RidingEasy Records. They’re on tour in Europe now (dates here).]

With their third full-length for RidingEasy Records, Melbourne, Australia’s Holy Serpent would seem to realize the vision of heavy they’ve been chasing for the last half-decade. The four-piece bring forth six tracks across the 40 minutes of Endless, which continues a theme of single-word titles from its predecessor, 2016’s Temples (review here) — their 2015 debut was self-titled (review here) — and with them, set out into an expanse of tone, and lush, patiently-delivered roll, shuffle and melody. It’s the latter that proves most crucial, as guitarist Scott Penberthy‘s vocals come across with more distinction and confidence throughout and work to make songs like “Daughter of the Light” all the more consuming. Joined by guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Dave Bartlett and drummer Lance LeembrugenPenberthy crafts lush and psychedelic vocals in the tradition of Mars Red Sky even as he and Donoughue dig into riffs that remind alternately of newer Windhand‘s take on grunge — particularly on the penultimate “For No One,” also the longest track at 7:44 — or of a hybridized Uncle Acid buzz and Electric Wizard lumber on opener “Lord Deceptor” and side A finale “Daughter of the Light.”

To this context, however, Holy Serpent add a marked personality of their own, with howling guitars intertwining on “Daughter of the Light” and an uptick of doom metal in second track “Into the Fire,” even as the layers of vocals drawl out over the midsection of the song. The light/dark blend of melody, crunch and sprawl gives Endless a psychedelic earthiness; something that, in the past, the band has referred to as “shroom doom,” but never quite captured as completely as they do here. That’s fitting enough for the narrative of the “third album,” but cliché or no, the work they do in these tracks is a manifestation not to be discounted simply because it makes a convenient story. The simple fact is Holy Serpent have written a collection of songs that brings their approach to a new echelon of presence and execution, and Endless deserves to be in the conversation of the best heavy psych offerings of 2019.

In terms of setting a mood, Holy Serpent do so with a natural flair, their riffs providing a foundation from which the song is expanded, “Hourglass” adding either keys or effects or else I’m just hearing things during the verse for further melodic flourish. This leads the way into a three-song side B that answers back the complete control over the proceedings the foursome display through the first three tracks: “Lord Deceptor,” “Into the Fire” and “Daughter of the Light.” The opener is especially important for the lead-in it gives not just with its own post-Witchcult Today riff, but with how it uses that in order to make its own statement about who Holy Serpent are and have become. Its depth of mix is essential, and it unfolds in a way that’s either hypnotic or enthralling depending on how one wants to listen to it, and easy as it is to get lost in the spirit of the piece by the end of its 6:47, which meets head on with the snap-back-to-consciousness of the more uptempo intro to “Into the Fire.”

holy serpent endless

Rest assured there’s plenty of plod and tonal heft there as well, but a more swinging take after the opener does well in furthering the scope of Endless overall. Again, it’s not that Holy Serpent are the first ones ever to establish this kind of dynamic, but it’s how they do it and the fluidity with which they conjure in the process that makes Endless such an engaging listen. “Daughter of the Light” seems to meet “Into the Fire” and “Lord Deceptor” halfway and so is a fitting summary of where the band have taken the album to this point, but it’s still not the final word as regards the story of the growth that the band have undertaken over the last five years, as “Hourglass,” “For No One” and the closer “Marijuana Trench” (as opposed, one assumes, to Marianas) are still to come, each one bringing something to add to the strength of Endless as a whole.

The midtempo push of “Hourglass” is met by a deceptively catchy lyric and guitar line, and the slower-faster interplay between “Lord Deceptor” and “Into the Fire” that started the record seems to meet its mirror image in the faster-slower transition from “Hourglass” into “For No One.” A plodding, crashing, deep-running vision of stoned grunge is met by vocal harmonies and creative layering in the verse hook, and while Windhand has already been noted as a touchstone for the style, Holy Serpent effectively make the case that there’s more in weaving heavy psych fuzz and flannel-and-Doc-Martins stylizations to be explored. I don’t know what it might lead to, but “For No One” sounds like a definitive forward step, and that’s always welcome as far as I’m concerned. A noisy finish seems like it might be the apex of Endless as “Marijuana Trench”‘s standout goofball title makes it seem somewhat of a drawdown from the prior cuts and its acoustic-based intro is a departure as well, but the wash into which the band launch as the song plays out is not at all to be discounted because they made a weed pun, and if anything, it builds on the considerable accomplishments before it in crafting a humming universe of noise.

That is the course of Endless, and perhaps some of the reason it feels like such a moment of arrival for Holy Serpent is because the songs do so well in setting their atmosphere and dwelling in it. Australia has a well-populated underground scene, Melbourne specifically so, but I have a hard time thinking of another band from the region who’ve been able to take influences from the sphere of modern heavy and turn them into something so complete and individualized. I don’t necessarily think Holy Serpent are done refining their processes — which is only good news, frankly — but it does seem like they’ve come to a new understanding of who they are and who they want to be as a band, and that has resulted in an LP that is refreshing and engrossing at the same time. Mine it for sonic details or put it on and let your brain melt; there’s really no wrong way to go.

Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks

Holy Serpent on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

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Khan Sign to Salty Dog Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Melbourne heavy psych rockers Khan have signed to Salty Dog Records. Neat, right? That’s a cool pickup that puts the Aussie trio alongside Mother TonguesKing Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and Pseudo Mind Hive, among others, as labelmates. Fine company to keep. What’s not included in the announcement below, however, is exactly what the deal is for.

Khan released their full-length debut, Vale, last year, digitally and on CD. Could well be that Salty Dog has picked it up for a vinyl release — which would be well enough earned by the album’s depth of tone and spacious affect — or it could just be that Salty Dog will stand behind their next outing whenever that happens to manifest itself, presumably from out of the great cosmic ether that produced “Separation” from the first record. Or even better, maybe it’s both.

Both Khan and Salty Dog posted about the pickup on the social medias, as one would expect, but neither mentioned exactly what the collaboration between them will be. Keeping it on the q.t. for now, I guess. Fair enough.

I didn’t catch onto Vale before now, so I’m kind of considering this my excuse to dive into the album, which you’ll find streaming below. I think you can hear pretty quickly why it’d be a good fit for a vinyl release, despite potential runtime issues.

Dig:

khan

KHAN – NEW ARTIST ANNOUNCEMENT

Please join us in welcoming Khan to the Salty Dog Records family.

Khan are a Melbourne based heavy psych/prog/rock trio that meld hazy psychedelia and heavy stoner riffs with progressive rhythms and song structures. The songs are lyrically evocative, filled with heavy psychedelic sounds and incredible bass tones which lead you through quite the journey.

Khan says, “We made a new friend!! His name is Salty and he’s a fuckin dog! (Salty Dog Records). We’re super stoked to be a part of the family and to be working with such a legend.”

Stay tuned for further updates.

Khan are:
Josh Bills – Vocals/Guitar
Mitchell Kerr – Bass/Backing vocals
Beau Heffernan – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/khanbandofficial/
https://khanofficial.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSaltyDogRecords
https://www.instagram.com/saltydog.records/
https://salty-dog.bandcamp.com/

Khan, Vale (2018)

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Buried Feather Post “Nuclear Suzi” Video; Cloudberry Dreamshake out Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

buried feather

Garage buzz, psychedelic gaze and all the drift you could ask for — plus a hook. I guess by now Australia is starting to come out of its winter just a little bit — such as seasons still exist anywhere — but to me, Buried Feather‘s new single, “Nuclear Suzi,” sounds right on the money for the end of summer. The track communes with a 1965-’66 psychaesthetic, but treats the style as though it emerged fully formed from out of a cocoon, rather than grew into its enduringly lysergic self. Tones are sopping wet and not exactly retro, but especially in the context of the video, there’s a classic-promo-clip vibe that pervades visually and enhances that feel in the music. It’s almost like the senses are intertwined or something. Go melt your brain.

“Nuclear Suzi” is the second track to be offered up from Buried Feather‘s forthcoming long-player, Cloudberry Dreamshake — a garage rock title if e’er I heard one — and it follows the prior-posted “Lightning Hands,” which I’ve included at the bottom of the post (or near it, anyhow) just in case you need to get caught up. That song has a little bit more of a push, which perhaps accounts for the “shake,” but there’s plenty of “dream” in it as well, and I don’t know what a cloudberry tastes like, but screw it; did I mention go melt your brain?

Buried Feather seem to have pared down to a trio since they put out Mind of the Swarm in 2017, but after touring Europe last year, they don’t seem to be lacking for any kind of sonic expansion. This is a cool one, and the video rules as well, so I’ll keep it simple in the hope that you actually watch the damn thing if you’re still reading this. If not, well, go melt your brain, I guess.

Enjoy:

Buried Feather, “Nuclear Suzi” official video

We’re pleased to share the new single and music video “Nuclear Suzi” from Melbourne psych-rockers Buried Feather.

The song is taken from the forthcoming album Cloudberry Dreamshake, out September 12th on Cobra Snake Necktie Records. The music video was directed by Chris Matthews (Tropical Fuck Storm, Batpiss, Cable Ties).

Directed by: Chris Matthews

Buried Feather, “Lightning Hands”

Buried Feather on Thee Facebooks

Buried Feather on Bandcamp

Cobra Snake Necktie Records website

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Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant: Awake in Visions

Posted in Reviews on August 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sleeping giant sleeping giant

Sometimes a band comes right out of their second rehearsal with a batch of songs, ready to hit the studio and make a record — or at least that’s how it feels. That’s not the case with Sleeping Giant, who emerge from Australia’s crowded heavy underground some six years after forming as Lowpoint. Their self-titled and self-released-but-probably-not-for-long debut album is the result of the subsequent half-decade of writing and woodshedding, and comprises a clean eight tracks and 42 minutes of solid-foundation fuzz rock, turning influences from earlier Queens of the Stone Age, Lowrider, Kyuss and more rolling fare into a collection of original songs that bask in their fuzzy familiarity but still feel geared toward their own approach, perhaps because they’ve been so worked on. Even the recording process for Sleeping Giant‘s Sleeping Giant took a year, which sounds excruciating, but the resultant long-player finds guitarist/vocalist Steven Hammer, bassist James Wright and drummer Pali Emond-Glenn sounding well aware of who they are as a band and able to manifest that in their material without losing their first-album edge.

Even without knowing it was so long in coming together, the songs don’t feel off-the-cuff. They feel worked on, thought out, considered, and that’s by no means a detriment to their execution, which remains plenty energetic. That’s an achievement unto itself, but it’s just one of the ways Sleeping Giant ultimately impress throughout, as they move through a tracklisting that’s no less impeccably arranged than the songs themselves in terms of bringing out the different sides of the band’s approach, growing richer as it goes from side A to B in what’s clearly a vinyl-intended progression — the cover by Emond-Glenn would seem geared toward that as well — that nonetheless flows smoothly throughout, making its way toward the three-part finale, “Visions I,” “Visions II” and “Visions III,” which together introduce new elements of atmosphere and aggression to the proceedings, taking the straightforward core of heavy rock from which Sleeping Giant work and using it as a basis for exploring different ideas. However long it took to make it happen, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of a debut album.

Sleeping Giant opens, suitably enough, with “Sleep,” which begins an initial salvo that will continue basically through the first four songs to one degree or another. A mid-paced groove takes hold with effective, laid back vocal melodies overtop from Hammer and a fuzz that’s both warm-sounding and right on in terms of capturing a desert-style feel while still giving Wright‘s bass room to make an impression. One is reminded early on of Sungrazer to a degree, but Sleeping Giant are on a less jammy trip overall, and the roll of “Sleep” is offset by the sheer thrust of “Temptress,” which pushes the vocals forward in the mix and offers as support for them a fervent push and tempo kick, the trade from one to the next crucial to understanding how side A works, since the subsequent “Empire” and “Serpent” will essentially make the same moves, though of course there are changes in the approach to be considered.

sleeping giant

“Temptress” resolves itself in a nod and final shove before dropping out to a series of curses — somebody’s mad about something, comically — and leading to the six-and-a-half-minute “Empire,” which is a highlight for its blend of bounce and roll, the chorus reminding of some lost late-’90s/early-’00s gem from somewhere in Northern Europe, even as the tones and production by Erek Ladd and Jarod Meadows remains modern. Guitar drops out in the second half of “Empire” for a moment to let the bass introduce the apex nodder riff and the slow-motion swagger that ensues is more than welcome upon the return of the full tonal breadth. In comparison, “Serpent” — also the most direct source of the Lowrider comparison above — is arguably the highest-energy of the bunch, with a careening Homme-style central riff and sense of movement brought out all the more by the shift into a slower section at the midpoint, only to return to a speedier finish. Again, not by any means revolutionary, but effective in conveying Sleeping Giant‘s priorities, which are clearly geared toward songcraft.

The basic structure of side B changes, thanks largely to the aforementioned “Visions” trilogy. “Gypsy” unfolds very much in the character of side A’s tradeoffs between longer and shorter songs, finding Hammer‘s malleable vocals in a lower register over a slower riff before opening up for the chorus, trading tempos much in the spirit of “Serpent,” only reversed. In the overarching progression of the record, “Gypsy” is inherently outshined by “Visions,” but its being there makes sense and the work it does to tie the two halves of the album together isn’t to be forgotten. Still, it’s a significant turn when the instrumental “Visions I” begins its subdued unfolding, reminding of progressive-era Truckfighters‘ less jumpy moments, with a linear build toward the heavier guitar’s full brunt.

They get there before the track’s three minutes are up, and turn directly into “Visions II,” which unfolds a King Buffalo-y psychedelic blues vibe until a more severe riff leads at 2:42 to harsher growling in post-hardcore fashion — actually, the voice reminds me of Elegy-era Amorphis, but I’m willing to chalk that up to sonic coincidence — gradually working in clean and harsh layers effectively to carry Sleeping Giant to a genuinely unexpected crescendo, leaving “Visions III” to pick up immediately from there, which it does by shifting into another engaging nod-roll as a bed for a return of sung vocals and the gradual build of a melodic wash of tone, which acts not so much as an epilogue to the prior part’s payoff, but as a different stage of the same idea — in that way, “Visions” is all the more well executed as a whole. And it’s in that last three-parter that Sleeping Giant most show the potential in their sound for bringing a range of styles together under a fuzzy banner and crafting an identity of their own from them. After six years and a name change leading to this debut, I won’t speculate on where they might go from here or when they might get there, but the obvious care they put into the writing and honing and construction of this material shows through one way or another in each track, which is no less than they deserve.

Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant (2019)

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