Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Heavy America - ...Now (2017)

Written by Charles Hatton, posted by blog admin

As if delivered to the future in H.G. Wells’ own personal time machine, Heavy America’s …Now is the powerhouse, rock n’ roll answer to the polished folk/progressive rock polluting the airwaves.  Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men seem to be the only names getting the major label nods and widespread audience attention.  Though not terrible bands, these artists are not quite my cup of tea and it’s hard to find bands incorporating blues, country and folk inspirations into more bombastic, memorable hard rock.  Heavy America takes the current stereotype and turns it upside down.  They’ve got a sprawling appeal that could hook in fans of completely different though somehow kindred acts like The Decemberists, Across Tundras, Wolfmother, Howling Rain and even early Witchcraft.

Led by guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Mike Seguin, drummer/percussionist Dan Fried and bassist Budd Lapham, Heavy America are a mercurial power trio hellbent on infiltrating eardrums with a stampede of rustling rock n’ roll fervor.  The atmosphere is dusky yet uplifting on lead-off jam “Proud Shame.”  Seguin’s decipherable, powerfully intoned vocals conjure images of days gone by atop windswept guitar melodies, canyon wide bass lines and vigorous drumming.  Sullen melodies are prominent but fearsome stoner riffs keep the haunting meditations from boredom; a stark contrast of booming guitar work and introspection make for some lively progressions.  Dirt-encrusted grooves and an extended outro jam with a powder keg solo lick render “Bleed Mary” a potent piece of hickory-cooked rock in its own right.  The chorus is succinct, angry and plenty heavy, offsetting the dreamy verses and psychedelic instrumental bridge (heard during the second half) with swipes of mental violence. 

“Pray for Me” distills the band’s knife-edged choruses into a track completely absorbed in the ways of classic, road-burning riff n’ roll.  If Slint’s swirling space rock took a tumble into a vat of moonshine, it would probably end up sounding something like this.  Stop/start blues meets acidic noise-rock tinges on the groovy roll of “Sweet Kisses.”  There’s a math-y, unpredictable shove going in the twitchy rock riffs, swinging bass curves and raucous shuffle beats that makes its melodic shamble eerier than it has a right to be.  On “Casting Stones” Heavy America plod their way through a hulking epic with lengthy, melodic drones ringing of vintage country n’ western music before a pummeling wall of riffs spirals the music into a bottomless abyss of sludgy curmudgeon. 

Elsewhere, “Goliath” stirs up the primordial ooze for a head-down hard rock rapture with plenty of blues tendencies, “I Can Take It” borrows from the buzzing book of psychedelic rock written by Hawkwind and Monster Magnet, “Heavy Eyes” trots along like Neil Young lost in Seattle and Achilles Fail” riffs with the best of them..  All around, Heavy America never miss a step on …Now, a primal rock album that pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. 

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