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Freedom Hawk - Sunlight

Freedom Hawk
Sunlight
by Anna Chase at 12 June 2017, 10:20 AM

FREEDOM HAWK, who hail from Virginia, are a self-described and eclectic blend of Soul, Hard Rock, and Stoner Metal. The group formed in 2003, when original members Mark Cave and T.R. Morton began jamming together in one garage or another. Everything fell into place when drummer Lenny Hines was introduced to the duo, and finally Mark managed to convince his brother Matt, who was involved in other local bands, to join the group as a second guitarist. Since the early days, they’ve grown both musically and professionally, releasing five full-length albums as well as several demos and EPs. The band’s sound has been compared to the thick, bass-centered grooves of 70’s Rock such as DEEP PURPLE and early BLACK SABBATH, but they take that same tone and switch it into something heavier and slower, a change that caused some people to label them as Doom Metal. The band’s fuzzy, sometimes gritty sound appeals to an audience across all genres of Metal, and Rock too, from 70’s Psychedelic Rock swing to modern Stoner Metal groove, there’s something for everyone in “Sunlight”.

The first track, ominously named “Executioner”, starts out with a glowing, vaguely Middle-Eastern sounding guitar riff, backed by spacey synths and classic drum rhythms. Morton’s vocals struck me as very similar to those of early Ozzy Osbourne, and the gritty groove of this song mirrored the style of 70’s SABBATH as well. The best part about this track for sure was the fuzzy bass riff which tied the entire thing together in a neat package. “Land of the Lost” again injected a powerful central rhythm into the song, bolstered by the blend of Bluesy guitar and bass. Many of Cave’s solos and riffs sound remarkably like something Tony Iommi would perform. It’s good; so good, in fact, that I was almost wishing the band would work on their own sound, or otherwise declare themselves a BLACK SABBATH cover band.

“Sunlight”, the album’s title track, has a Stoner Metal feel for sure. The bass chugs along in front of a languid drum riff, and the guitar riff is simplistic and repetitive, but in a good way. The contrast between the rhythm guitar riff and the harmonics of the lead guitar added depth and diversity to the song as well. “Stand Back” was largely focused on Morton’s vocals. However, the swirling guitar riffs can’t be ignored. They’re definitely Doom Metal-influenced, and are reminiscent of a lighter, airier CANDLEMASS. Though this song seemed a bit oversimplified and monotonous, it was still solid musically and rhythmically. I was just hoping for something a bit more attention-grabbing.

“Lightning Charge” backs the band away from the sludgy Stoner Metal/Rock blend they’re used to. It’s faster, with a strong rhythm established by the guitar, and utilizes Hines to his full extent in a standout drum track. The solo is slightly space-age and matches up with the vocals perfectly. This song sounds like Ozzy smoked a ton of weed and got shot into space on a rocket. “Going Down” marks a huge shift in sound for FREEDOM HAWK. It’s calm, with misty, echoing vocals, and a muted drum track. Surprisingly, this track has very little guitar. The only guitar riff seems like it belongs in a smooth jazz club rather than in a Rock album; it’s high, reverbing, and bubbly. Even the solo is toned down here. It’s a good song, but seems more like Stoner elevator music rather than Stoner Metal.

“Palomino” brings the listener back to the band’s rumbling grooves and introduces a catchy and complexly layered guitar riff. This was in fact one of my favorite songs on the album. I felt as though Morton’s voice intertwined with the instruments without overpowering them, and really illustrated what FREEDOM HAWK was trying to achieve in their sound. “Grab a Hold” was far spacier than its predecessors on the album with wobbly, echoing guitar riffs and a synth intro, the song started off strong as a mystical Stoner/Doom Metal fusion. The drums provided a solid rhythmic background, while the dual guitar riffs overlapped and rippled over and through each other to create a fuzzy, mind-melting song which exploded into a solo halfway through.

The last song, “King of Order”, just sounded regal. It could’ve been a SABBATH hit. The riffs were catchy and energetic, and the speed of the track helped propel the song forward. Sometimes Doom Metal can drag, however, this song was ripping and fused top-notch drumming and rhythm with the groove of gritty guitar riffs to create something electric. Overall, FREEDOM HAWK are an insanely talented group who sound professional and do a spot-on impression of BLACK SABBATH. In fact, that brings me to my only criticism; I wish the band would find their own sound, or at least something to distinguish their music from any early SABBATH albums. They sound almost like a cover band, however, don’t let that undermine their musical skills.


Songwriting: 8
Originality: 3
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Executioner
2. Land of the Lost
3. Sunlight
4. Stand Back
5. Lightning Charge
6. Going Down
7. Palomino
8. Grab a Hold
9. King of Order
Lineup:
Matt Cave- Guitar
T.R. Morton- Guitar, vocals
Mark Cave- Bass
Lenny Hines- Drums
Record Label: Ripple Music
     


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