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A Crusty, Sludgy Sledge To The Head - 85%

corviderrant, April 16th, 2006

Remind me not to smoke what the last reviewer was smoking, because I totally disagree with his assessment of this album. This album reminds me of what would maybe happen if Black Sabbath and Motorhead had a baby and Iggy Pop carried it to term, with the mighty Steve Albini overseeing the birth of this ugly, fuzzy hellchild. And a potent wallop to the head it is, too.

If the production had been immaculate, the feel would've been totally destroyed, as this to me sounds perfect for what HOF are doing. The dismal, cavernous sound lends an undeniable feeling of impending doom to the proceedings, very Lovecraftian, almost. The drums sound as though there is a real person playing them, and not just playing them but whaling a ton of shit out of them to boot. No triggers, just a powerful ambient drum sound that has just enough air and oomph to really connect hard with the listener. The bass merges with the guitar into a formidable wall of sound that threatens to forcibly tear your head off and stick it somewhere it really doesn't belong. And alongside the guitars as opposed to flying over them, Matt Pike's ugly, glass-gargling growl a la Lemmy sit in their own little niche in the mix, making it sound like a unit more than anything else.

This is far from the boring drones I associate with doom/stoner bands, musically--HOF are far more exciting and energetic. This is not some bunch of stupid hippies overdoing the bong hits and then trying to play their music, this is the sound of rabid and fierce players taking their art seriously and injecting it with passion and aggression.

For example, opening track, "Devilution", takes off from the starting gate like a throughbred horse being given its head and its fiendish roar is like Motorhead in their prime. Then we are treated to the deliciously dissonant opening riffs of "The Face of Oblivion", a Lovecraft-inspired piece lyrically that conveys the haunted and terrifying feel of that writer's classic fiction set to a tribal/marching beat that will make you move and bang and sweat. Pike's vocals are especially good on this one and he lets out some hair-raising screams. The middle section of that tune is especially powerful and features one of the best solos on the album--Pike is on top of his game here and rips with confidence. "Brother in the Wind" is slower and heavier, but still not crawling or boring yet. Other tunes to look forward to here are the irate "Cometh Down Hessian", the moody "Silver Back", and ending instrumental "Sons of Thunder", which has a vaguely Celtic feel to its rollicking drum beats and ends the album on a relatively upbeat note. The title track has a really dismal feel to it, with a thundering singalong chorus that I'm sure goes down a storm live.

This is a worthy release from HOF, and while I'm sure their other albums are good too, I especially like this one so far. Go ahead and give these guys your money and help them not have to work shitty day jobs!