(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Straight from the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee comes the very embodiment of the antithesis of that musical genre. It is manifested both in the form of the band Howling Giant and their recent EP release, “Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2“.
The six-song offering dropped via Magnetic Eye Records back on August 25th and is the band’s third EP offering altogether, following their 2015 S/T and last year’s ‘Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1′.
If you have been keeping up and getting invested in Howling Giant‘s recorded output thus far, then you know what this trio is capable of. Despite the comic-book like appearance of artwork or the light-hearted approach to titling, guitarist / vocalist Tom Polzine, bassist / vocalist Roger Marks, and drummer / vocalist Zach Wheeler are all about serious musical business .
That seriousness finds its direction in the trio’s uniquely magnificent melding of psychedelia-centered sonics with powerful prog rock performance. With intricate layer upon developing layer, these guys roll out epic compositions that blend the very best qualities of what Stoner Rock has to offer.
From the heady expanses of the intro song “Henry Tate“, the journey begins, guided by spoken word vocals and trippy synths / keyboards. The latter are repeatedly contributed to this body of work, by guest musician Drew Harakal, his electrified flavoring enhancing some phenomenal guitar work in this initial track.
From there, things immediately swerve into one of my favorite songs here, “The Pioneer“. Its spectacular, proggy, desert rock reveals an overall leap of seeming light years from last year’s record. Look no further than the Official Video for the track below and you too will proclaim its grandeur from now on.
It seems that each new song builds an underlying intensity that permeates each new aural revelation. This truth was never more evident than it is on the incredible “Visions“, another highlight of the EP. A doomy undertow ripples beneath the song’s surface, one that is offset with superb melodic augmenting and harmonized vocals. The tribalesque drumming providing a spiraling sensation as the mystical, sci-fi lyrical tale unfurls.
Things take a brief respite with the hypnotic acoustic lull of the saxophone supple interlude “The Forest Speaks” (thanks to Kim Wheeler). The fluidity of the piece soon yields to an ominous, effect-heavy spoken warning, before careening into the heavier “Circle Of Druids“. Thickened riffs rise from within its near metallic elements, flying ever higher as the lyrics themselves simultaneously call for ascension.
A finalizing stroke of further creative genius closes things, with the grandiose ode to the “Earth Wizard“. Tempos that ebb and flow, climb and then crash, fully fill the song with expert execution. The end piece’s scope and magnitude is utilized to its utmost with a free-flowing vibe, an airy escape from the confines of gravity itself.
In a review of last year’s ‘Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1‘, I said that it was a sleeper hit of 2016, one that unfortunately escaped many. Don’t be one of those foolhardy folks this time.
Howling Giant have once again struck cosmic gold to the Nth degree with this year’s “Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2“, there is no doubt about it. Once you hear it in its texturally complex fullness, you will come to understand, embrace and champion this belief, as well.
FYI – Howling Giant recently embarked on their ‘Desert Of Desolation’ road tour trek. You can find their remaining road dates on the poster schedule below (click image for full size view).