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Howling Giant - The Space Between Worlds

Howling Giant
The Space Between Worlds
by Gary Hernandez at 15 October 2019, 5:31 PM

HOWLING GIANT is from Nashville, TN — a hell of a town for a metal band to emerge from, though I should clarify that the individual band members are from elsewhere. The trio formed in 2015 and, genre-wise, they occupy a space between Progressive Metal and Stoner Metal. They have three EPs to their credit and in late September 2019 they issued their first long play, “The Space Between Worlds.” It is fantastic.

For those who follow HOWLING GIANT, “The Space Between Worlds” introduces one lineup change with Roger Marks (bass, vocals) departing and Sebastian Baltes (bass, vocals) entering.  Additional featured musicians include Drew David Harakal II on keyboards, Jason Shi (vocals) on “Ice Castle,” and Kevin “Big Business” Dempsey filling in bass on three tracks. There are several things about this album which I found refreshing and which set the band apart from their peers. First, the vocals are incredible. Keep in mind, all three members contribute vocals, so that’s harmonies across three people who are simultaneously kicking out some series jams. Impressive is an understatement. I know a lot of metalheads prefer gutturals, but there is still a place for clean vocals. Take “Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express” as an example. The song, about cybernetic race machines, features surf style harmonies that are so smooth you could surf on them. And I love the humor of this song — racing machines, sand, BEACH BOY harmonies — fun stuff. As a special treat, the supporting video showcases a skateboarding pizza delivery guy.

Second, Zach Wheeler (drums) is flat out astounding. Now, I’m not a musician so I can’t say if Zach is a technical virtuoso, but I sure as hell can appreciate a good drummer when I hear one. Zach’s drumming isn’t buried in the background invisibly enforcing time signatures and guiding the rhythm line, it’s right out front kicking down doors and breaking all your good stuff.  We’re talking mean, nasty, and unrelenting. I would love to hear the isolated drum track for this album. Thematically, the album is reminiscent of THE SWORD’s “Warp Riders.” To quote the band’s promo materials, the “The Space Between Worlds” tells the story of “a huntress who travels the infinite metaphysical worlds brought into being by the dreams of humankind.” I don’t know, but I’ve read a crap load of sci-fi/fantasy and this is one compelling storyline. So not only do you get nine awesome tracks of Stoner/Prog Metal, but you also get a great story as a bonus. I should mention that although the album is a single narrative, each song easily stands alone.

While some of the songs are heavy at times, this is not a hard jam album. The riffs, like the vocals, are clean. I credit Zach’s drumming for adding the viscera that keeps the album from drifting off into the graveyard of the over-produced and over-stylized. Standout tracks include the opener, “Comet Rider” – nice riffs, catching chorus, lots of energy; “The River Guide” — bizarre but gratifying interlude right in the middle and a bluesy backbone; “Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express” — highly infectious Stoner romp that’ll bounce around in your head for days;  and “Stone Giant” — heavy fisted riffs, swirling drums, thoughtful lyrics.

Downside? Yeah, there’s not really anything on this album that doesn’t fit. This is the type of album that’ll end up costing you double your initial investment because you’re going to end up buying the rest of their catalogue. In summary, HOWLING GIANT lives up to their name as a towering, lethal entity. Their full-length album, “The Space Between Worlds,” is like the axe that giant is wielding. It’s clean, it’s sharp, and it’s moving fast to vanquish its enemies, or at least your eardrums.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Comet Rider
2. Nomad
3. Ghost in the Well
4. The River Guide
5. Ice Castle
6. Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express
7. Everlight
8. The Orb
9. Stone Giant
Lineup:
Sebastian Baltes – Bass, vocals
Zach Wheeler – Drums, vocals
Tom Polzine – Guitar, vocals
Record Label: Blues Funeral Recordings
     


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