Released: 2017, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Is doom metal still doom if it sounds happy?
It’s an almost meme worthy question, but one that you’ll find yourself asking from time to time with Howling Giant’s latest installment of the BLACK HOLE SPACE WIZARD saga. Tapping the vein of Hammond heavy space doom a la Acid King and High Priest of Saturn alongside some Pink Floyd and almost Beatles-esque flavors, the Tennessee trio weave a rich and heavy musical tapestry across the six new tunes.
As the epic sci-fi buildup of “Henry Tate” bleeds into “The Pioneer”, major key arrangements, layers of vocal harmony and a bouncing bass line collectively create a feel good jam that’s heavy, fun and full of groove. “Visions” provides a powerful counterbalance, downshifting into DARK SIDE OF THE MOON-styled reflective repose, but retaining those amazing harmonies and anchored with organ vibrations. “Castle of Druids” is a sweeping, mid-tempo almost doom power ballad, while the closing “Earth Wizard” reaches back towards more uplifting presentation, but packages it with sharp, crunchy riffs. There’s a cohesiveness across BHSW2 that allows the songs to flow into each other very naturally, and I found myself listening to it in its entirety almost every time I pressed play. It’s quite simply a really, really good listen.
Going back into last year’s PART 1 and 2015’s self-titled Ep before it, Howling Giant seem to have always had a gift for writing music like this, but the songwriting, performances, and general presentation have never sounded as good as they do on BLACK HOLE SPACE WIZARD: PART 2. Every time I’ve come back to it, I hear something new, and given the quality of the production on it, you’d be hard pressed to guess this was a self-released labor of love. And if the music itself weren’t reason enough to get your attention, the fact that the band has their full discography available on Bandcamp as a ‘name your price’ download should be.
To answer the question posed at the beginning of this review – yes, you can cover a range of emotions (happiness, sadness, hunger), all within the guardrails of what we know and love as doom. Howling Giant have unequivocally proven that. Do yourself a favor and check this out.