Dirty rock n’ roll--as High n’ Heavy self-describes their genre of choice--invokes a pretty obvious sonic palette: fuzz-ridden guitar, unrestrained bass, cigarette n’ whisky vocals. It’s a form of 70’s worship that works only if you throw yourself wholeheartedly into the aesthetic, and Warrior Queen is a perfect example of that sheer dedication in practice.
With their latest LP, High n’ Heavy creates the medieval equivalent of a biker bar--instead of leather-swaddled Lemmys, picture a crew of six-string wielding knights in rusty armor. If you’re used to clean edges and keen production, look elsewhere. If, however, you like music that remains as fiercely dedicated to the amp as it is to the pipe...your quest is over, friend. High n’ Heavy reminds me of so many different bands from so many different genres, to the extent that listing them all feels, in many ways, counterproductive to actually describing what they sound like. That said, the unrefined edge of early Free or Zeppelin rears a bluesy head, and the Wolfmother vibes are particularly strong, especially in the stylistically overextended vocal delivery. Speaking of vocals, there’s a little bit of Circle Jerk’s gruffness swirling around as well. In terms of the retro scene from which they have spawned, there’s some Killer Boogie in the occasionally boppy riffage, and maybe High Reeper in the general scummy irreverence. Instrumentally, Warrior Queen takes a doomier bent than past outings, with Mike Dudley’s hefty low end bringing the atmosphere to greater depths, and John Steele’s riffage and keys lending the whole affair a deliciously antiquated glow. And while we’re running through the roster, Mr. Perrone keeps things rock-steady whilst maintaining a pleasing presence in the percussion department.
Oftentimes, rock outfits suffer from an unsophisticated spread of talent--in other words, one person clearly rises above the rest. Not so here. As a unit, High n’ Heavy is workmanlike in that everyone seems to contribute substantially to the final product. That said, the vocals are High n’ Heavy’s most unique trait, plain n’ simple. Ranging from the Plant-esque howl of “Grown Tired,” to the punky shouts of “Catapult,” to the discordantly melodic strains of “Lydia,” the variety Kris Fortin brings is impressive, to say the least. A weak moment is evident on the intro to “Join the Day,” where some heavier instrumentation feels necessary to hold his reedy warble, but otherwise, Warrior Queen’s intrinsic rawness is very well balanced.
All told, Warrior Queen is a highly enjoyable album from an understated band, an appropriately grungy dive into the dumpster of rock and stoner trappings. High n’ Heavy’s raw brand is dependent on a certain love for the fundamentally dirty spirit of rock n' roll, and for this commitment alone, I applaud them. Bottom line? This particular villager recommends you strap on your armor, ready your steel, and try the Warrior Queen on for size. While High n’ Heavy don’t smash genre barriers or present monumental songwriting chops, that’s not why they are here. And frankly, that’s not--and forgive me if I'm wrong--why any of us are here either.
High n’ Heavy - Warrior Queen will be released Jan. 25th from Electric Valley Records
Whilst compiling, cross-referencing, and copy-editing the Great Year End List of ‘18, the walls of our slumbering Village were battered by the tides of death and doom. As a result, some calmer tides are in order, and those gentle swells are brought to us today in the form of a single from Austin’s own A Good Rogering. Described briefly (if...not inaccurately) as “non-metal,” Out Of Reach demonstrates a stark contrast to AGR’s typical brand of eclectically raucous heavy rock. 2017’s EP, the ridiculously enjoyable and irreverently entitled This Is Death Metal, sets a much more electric tone. This release, as with AGR’s prior work is groovy, bouncy, and wonderfully off-kilter. Wearing the aesthetics of feel-good heavy rock on their sleeves, this outfit was seemingly slotted into a singular Primus-meets-Manowar category of their own.
Out of Reach, then, is a stark change, yet not unwelcome. In the same way that both Alice In Chains and The Smashing Pumpkins are instantly recognizable by their uncanny ability to provide well-written tracks across the spectrum from crunchy to acoustic, AGR proves that they have an apparent bevy of tricks up their sleeves. Here, the Alice In Chains comparison feels particularly apt, as the vocal delivery adopts a certain laid-back Staley vibe. The track builds in intensity, but never breaks into blustery rock ‘n’ roll rodomontade. A true testament to AGR’s ability to write a compelling tune. The vocal melodies are plenty hooky, no hefty riffs necessary. Much like the grunge of my childhood, Out Of Reach scratches that introspective, melancholic itch quite handily. The acoustics are presented with a competent grace, the chorus is a real earworm, and the lyrics, while suitably dark, remain comforting. All is well.
AGR is due for an album this coming year, and if it manages to balance the quiet emotive numbers such as this with their more heavy-handed side, I will be suitably impressed. With that said, Out Of Reach hasn’t left rotation for weeks, and with songwriting this good, I can expect the best. Our recommendation? Check it out on spotify, post-haste.
A Good Rogering can be found:
Well, this is refreshing. Typically, when promo proclaims that a band represents a "bold new take" on a traditional, well-trod style, you can expect the same: yet another forgettable "revitalization" of a sound and aesthetic that has been done to death, reanimated, and then slaughtered by copycats once more. In the case of Tzimani, the status quo is effectively put in its place. Despite sparking synapses associated with a variety of high-octane hard rock and metal birthed in the days of yore, this self titled debut EP genuinely feels fresh-faced. Pull on your leather, put the pedal to the metal, and smell the gasoline: Tzimani begins with menacing distortion, a rumbling engine of Mad Max-ian proportion.
Modern trad metal works best when A. the songwriting feels like it has been dredged from the past, and B. the musicianship sounds like the result of decades worth of practice. Here, the brotherly duo--frontman Eddie Vazquez and drummer Sebastian Vazquez--are certainly beyond their years in terms of skill. The instrumentality is remarkably tight for such untested newcomers, and the writing reflects an unprecedented maturity. These seem like tracks resulting from years of failure and eventual triumph. Take, for example, We Are the Ones, a blazing number that begs for repeat listens. It’s catchy as hell, with appropriately corny lyrics and a lot of gleeful rock ‘n’ roll presence. This is all due to a predictable structure, but Tzimani aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, so much as play tunes that would have undoubtedly filled stadiums--had they the good fortune to be released 30 years earlier. Drums are tight and precise, the bass is audible enough to leave a sizable impact, and the vocals are surprisingly flexible. Eddie has a decent range, and he isn’t afraid to throw some vaguely Hagar-influenced inflection into the triumphant refrains.
While Tzimani is impressive on all counts, the nail in the coffin of this EP’s success is the brilliant display of axemanship. Face-melting solos, finger-blistering arpeggios, and a Skull Fist’d shred’s-not-dead approach to riffage is worth the price of admission alone. While never flying off the handle or stooping to mere wankery, a vibrant enthusiasm for flashy displays of technique is evident in Eddie’s highly skilled fretwork. The solos absolutely rip--'nuff said. His ability to craft galloping NWOBHM tinged riffs and licks with a distinct sneering competency a la Motley Crue, and the earworm sensibilities of the aforementioned Skull Fist--or perhaps Def Leppard--is truly something to behold. There's definitely a little Maiden in there as well, which only adds to the splendor.
Originality is always going to come into question, and while this all feels necessarily familiar, it doesn’t feel, well, done. The Crue Connection, for example, is most apparent in closer Get Me Out Of Here, which recalls Kickstart My Heart's central theme, yet comfortably reinforces Tzimani’s (already established) trademark: balls-to-the-wall momentum. This track proves that these guys aren't here to let off the gas and coast in the strength of a couple tracks, allowing listeners to flounder in the filler and fluff so often associated with this brand of hard rock. To be frank, there isn't a track here that would seem out of place as a high-octane radio single.
It sounds cliche, but the greatest weakness of this EP is just that--it’s only an EP. When Tzimani drop an album proper, they are undoubtedly going to become recognized as a force to reckon with in the face of revitalized American metal. This monster has swiftly climbed the list into my top 5 EP’s of 2018 (spoiler!) and thus comes highly, highly recommended.
It’s Sunday, & you know what that means. We’ve had our black coffee + black metal, & now that we’re all keyed up, it’s time to kick back with some old-skool doom. As you may know, we spend time every Sunday exploring highlighting a lesser-known band that carries the mantle of Sabbathian legacy. Today we briefly shine the light on @witcherscreed, a young band whose very promising EPs are ample advertisement for their forthcoming debut. Slip on those headphones & dim the lights, dear reader; it’s time for #sabbathsunday.
When we talk about bands that emulate the 70’s, the risk is always that the group in question misses the encompassing sound of the decade in favor of poaching a little too aggressively. Not so here. While, for example, lead single Salem (Resurrection) feels Sabbathian in its mass, and demo 1’s self titled track has distinct Mississippi Queen vibes, Witchers Creed ain’t a copy/paste type of band. With boulderous (indeed, Mountain-esque) riffage liberally interrupted by acid-washed solos, a deliberate drumming style that recalls Baker’s contributions to Cream’s more straightforward numbers, & deliciously understated vocal harmonies, Witches Creed comes at the 70’s with a fresh-faced enthusiasm demonstrated by their many influences. Like early Saint Vitus or Pagan Altar, these young’uns display a delightful confidence, unmarred by uncomfortably clean production. Modern attempts at retro doom tend to focus exclusively on the nasty riff, & less so on the intricacies that keep things interesting. As mentioned, the soloing here is extensive & playful--this guy must know he can shred with a vibrant jubilance, & doesn’t allow stale notions of song construction to clip the wings of his stellar axemanship.
With a total of four distinct tracks up on bandcamp, burning through Witchers Creed isn’t exactly a major time investment--but oh, is it ever time well spent. That said, look for their debut album, courtesy of Ripple Music, sometime in the near future. If Awakened From the Tomb… is anything like what we’ve heard thusfar, the Sleeping Village certifies that it’s gonna be damn good.
Witchers Creed can be found at:
On a Friday morning, after a long work week of further pulverizing our broken, beat ‘n’ scarred eardrums, it behooves us motley villagers to get our mind out of the sonic gutters & seek out a bit of a palate cleanser. To this end, we offer @shadow_horse, a trio of self-described mythic rockers hailing from the wilds of Nashville, TN. More specifically, we present their latest single + resplendent music video, which premieres today over at spotify & the youtubery. We’ve been enjoying this track a helluva lot over this past week, &, seeing how it's OUT NOW, we heartily recommend you give it a watch (& a whirl).
Shadow Horse deal in modern rock of the epic variety--in comparison to your classic rocker, the underlying structure & lyrical content point toward archetypal sensibilities. Their debut album focused, conceptually, on a hero’s journey undertaken by the titular Visitor. The Choice doesn't appear to fit within a continuing storyline, but nonetheless remains within the established thematic oeuvre.
Instrumentally, there’s a similarity to Point of Know Return era Kansas. While the guitar itself feels supportive rather than technical, Lane Dudley isn’t afraid to approach the progressive bar, making bombastic use of his full register. As a result, the vocals are a little high in the mix, & some subtlety in this regard would add further dynamism to the overall sound. That said, there’s no question: this guy holds a mean note. Bass remains impressively prevalent, which, given the limited membership, certainly helps fill out the fold, especially giving an mellow (albeit song-appropriate) solo. The video itself--something we admittedly rarely deal in--is a pretty & well-shot affair. A lil’ less gritty than we’re used to, but a clean & honed aesthetic vision is evident.
All told, The Choice is A. definitely worth your while, & B. definitely worth coming back to. A solid choice, as it were.
Shadow Horse can be found:
A certain groggy-eyed, highfalutin' peasantry