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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Album Review - King Giant: Southern Darkness

"this album was made with gibson, gretsch and prs guitars, marshall and ampeg amps, harley davidson motorcycles, heineken, stella artois, quatro via, maker's mark, buffalo trace, red bull, twinnings earl grey tea, tatuaje cigars, copenhagen long cut, east west grill, the good but expensive food bar at whole foods...and a penchant for story tellin', a fascination with the macabre, and a healthy dose of general discontent."

So says the inner sleeve of the new King Giant long play "Southern Darkness". Fellas...you had me at Gibson. Despite the absolute kick assedness of the above quote, the music immediately backs up those words as opening track "Solace" bears down with an utterly heavy riff, pounding drums and vocals that sound like they've been marinated in whiskey for weeks. Folks, this is Southern fried metal at its finest and frankly, it's been awhile since I've heard something this good...better yet, this pure.

When listening to "Southern Darkness", it's easy to draw comparisons to other mid-Atlantic stoner/doom staples like Sixty Watt Shaman and of course Clutch. As a matter of fact, on "Burning Regrets", the album's second track, the combination of the sludgy guitar and Hammerly's rasp, draw such a striking resemblence to "Transnational Speedway League" era Clutch, that I half expected to hear Neil Fallon moan "they call me El Jefe". Don't get me wrong people, this is no knock on King Giant by any stretch...quite the contrary, it's a compliment.

The music stands out throughout the album. Realizing that there are some true guitar talents in the world of sludge rock (Scott "Wino" Weinrich and Tim Sult just to name a couple), when listening to many bands of this ilk, it isn't uncommon for the guitar to get completely buried in the muck. Not so with King Giant, as Todd Ingram lays down some downright sick guitar solos on this record, setting these guys apart from a lot of their peers. Furthermore, is that a banjo I hear on "13 to 1"? How many metal bands manage to pull that off? And while the leads are certainly noteworthy, they merely compliment the overall experience. Piling up all of the dirty, frozen snow banks that were plowed onto the sides of the roads in Northern Virginia (where these guys call home) this Winter, couldn't match the heaviness that results when you combine Kowalski's riffage with Walters' and Brooks' rhythm section.

But enough about the actual music, this review wouldn't be complete without mentioning King Giant's lyrics and more importantly, Hammerly's delivery. On "Mississippi River" when he sings "I gave her a lesson someone needed to give her...now they're draggin' for her bones in the Mississippi River", you have to hope that aforementioned quote is true when they mention "story tellin'". These guys can be downright scary. Of course there's lighter fare as well, such as on the open highway, motorcycle anthem "Desert Run" when Hammerly opines "a couple hundred miles, my first stop of the day...fill the tank, grab a beer, I'm on my way". Ahh...makes me turn the volume knob to the right, hit the gas pedal and wish to God my Honda Civic was a Harley!

After doing a little research, I learned that King Giant lost their original vocalist, Bob Dotolo, back in 2007 (RIP brother). Having learned that, I'm all the more impressed at what I hear on "Southern Darkness". No disrespect to the band's former vocalist, but Hammerly's hoarse wail is so perfect for this music, I can't imagine another voice fronting this band. When he sings "I'm still chasing you away...3 shots of whiskey every day" on "Lady Whiskey", you not only feel his pain, you believe that he's broken hearted, hurt and downright pissed off about it.

King Giant fall into a category of bands that span the globe, but honestly, this album could only be made in the American South. It's like listening to Down...or better yet, one of the true outlaw country artists like Waylon Jennings fronting Down...but with an even badder attitude. As a matter of fact, if Johnny Cash rose from the grave and started a metal band, this is what it might sound like. Folks, this is some serious shit. King Giant isn't music that's meant to be fun. No, this is music that's meant to exorcise demons.

Recommended...with a shot of whiskey.

Track Listing:

01. Solace
02. Burning Regrets
03. 13 to 1
04. Potter's Field
05. Mississippi River
06. Lady Whiskey
07. Machine Gun Mantra
08. Hollow
09. Shindig
10. Desert Run
Bonus Track - Needle and the Spoon

Band Members:

Floyd Walters III - Bass
Todd "T.I." Ingram - Lead Guitar
Dave Hammerly - Vocals
Brooks - Drums
David Kowalski - Rhythm Guitar

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  1. TI rocks! He is one sick guitar player and an all around great guy as well.

  2. Many thanks to the legendary Big Al Sevilla for killer banjo work on 13 to 1.

  3. King Giant rocks out! They perform everytime like it is their last! Very entertaining! T.I. Rocks the house on lead. The whole sound is very modern solid rock.

  4. Listening to this album right now. Killer.

  5. I just wanted to say that I downloaded this album, and I'm loving it so far. In fact, I love pretty much everything you put on this damn blog.

  6. Well, that is an awesome comment. Look for a new release from King Giant in January 2012.


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