Released: 2017, Magnetic Eye Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
This album should come with a complimentary prescription for an antidepressant of your choosing.
Pairing equal parts roiling, murky sludge with bleak, almost shoegaze-y hopelessness, Low Flying Hawks deliver a massive dose of doom on their sophomore GENKAKU. Founded by mystery men AAL and EHA and rounded out by past and present members of the Melvins and Mr. Bungle, the 7 tracks on GENKAKU offer a kind of sprawling sonic diversity that’s rooted in a concrete foundation of heavy, but aren’t afraid to spread their wings in order to reinforce that point.
Opening missive “Smile” is a prime example, existing almost as 3 songs in one. Emerging from its primordial ooze with an almost stoically restrained, speaker ratting riff and woefully spoken lamentations, it slowly transforms into a sickly, wretched confrontation and then again evolves into a sort of Clutch-on-Quaaludes boogie with the Melvins’ King Buzzo driving the song into a hard left turn. “Virgin Witch” is more straightforward in its execution (and probably my fav of the set), but with its waves of psychedelic rumblings, hypnotic vocal chants and a deeply unsettling melody line, it’s anything but run-of-the-mill. “Space Wizard” follows suit and features Buzzo again at the mic; it’s slightly less despondent than its predecessor, but the video that was released for the song quickly quells any tentative feelings of comfort. And the closing “Sinister Waves” embraces all of the kinetic anxiety that’s built up to this moment, but consciously adapts that energy into brighter, more up-tempo themes; maybe as if to say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel?
On the surface, GENKAKU is a solemn and unassuming record, but it’s only once you commit yourself to a listen that you realize not only just how much is going on musically, but just how hooked you are into the experience. Low Flying Hawks may be a bit too avante garde for the casual listener, but for those who prefer a bit of complexity to their diet of doom, GENKAKU is an epic record that will please the faithful.