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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Sludge: Twingiant - "Devil Down"

Late in 2013, my five year-old son fell in love with Hot For Teacher when it aired on local rock radio. Figuring this could serve as an appropriate funnel into a larger, clearer picture of rock music, I purchased The Best of Both Worlds, Van Halen's over-inflated jumble that moves from brilliant to painful in-between songs. My kids quickly dismissed 34 of the 36 tracks, and shifting to Sabbath and AC/DC has yet to yield positive results. I was once told that Alexander may be the best all-purpose male name, whether placed first, last, or as part of a middle name. But figuring Van Halen to be the best all-purpose (amusing, albeit vanilla) rock band proved I still have some work to do.

Two of Van Halen's covers on that compilation sprung from 1982's Diver Down, arguably the band's most difficult material to digest. But Perhaps Phoenix stoner-sludgers Twingiant are big fans, considering the visual parallels offered by Devil Down, the band's excellent 2nd full-length. The front and back covers mimic Diver Down's format, and both albums feature three instrumental tracks. Fortunately for Twingiant, that's where the parallels end. Devil Down's seven tracks wrap us in fuzzy riffs and effortlessly saunter between rock and metal on a path blurred with cosmic dust.

The album's three instrumental tracks soothe and envelop, looming with distant plucks and leaving behind a pleasant trail of melody. Old Hag is steady, cathartic, and provides a perfect introduction to Twingiant's stoner-buzz nebula. Fuzz oozes and coats our itching craws, expanding on guitar noodles toward a closing sludge push. The huge, punchy hum on Under a Blood Moon buries us, and we can only smile. Swarms of guitar brilliance characterize Through the Motions, balancing clean licks and bristling riffs. The backdrop of sky-shot track marks builds on the foundation of heaviness and we begin wishing we never find our way back.

Dead to Rights is a quick stoner-sludge romp highlighting the band's brand of focused freedom to do whatever they choose. Brash and self-assured, Jarrod's vocal enters to complement splitting guitars on a steadily progressive spiral toward the sun. As lights begin to dim, Daisy Cutter emerges on a low-burning thickness opened up by powerful, straightforward rock licks. It's harmonized and meticulously crafted, breaking into characteristic plucks staring into the past. When the clouds break, sludge flows freely and we again enjoy a tingle at the base of our skulls.

The closing title track is the disc's longest, and likely its most encompassing in terms of stoner and sludge metal tags. There's a bit more violence here, interrupting a brilliant calm and entering a buoyant, drawn-and-quartered swing against a tapestry of matted fur. The ominous gait ties-in to sludge vitriol, and we're carried home atop trademark chalky, sandy licks directed at the heavens. All we can do now is cruise and take in the twilight.

Devil Down provided me with a reality check, being that I crafted my list of 2014's favorites without having heard this album. Twingiant ease in and gradually throw back, introducing a sooty reality laced with surges, fades, and swoons. The detours are sticky and consoling, reflecting the band's commitment to finding harmony between evolution and allegiance. These seven tracks are distinctly Twingiant, but they're also fresh and dynamic. The sounds are never lost in the dust, never stuck in the mud, and never too high to die. And you may never want to stop listening.

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