Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof – Turned To Stone: Volume 2 – Masamune & Muramasa
Running Time: 40.56
Review by Dark Juan
Good afternoon, my screaming hordes of the undead! It is I, Dark Juan, and I have returned to share the benefit of my syllabification with you all. I apologise for my lack of communication over the past few weeks, but I have been in a dark place for a while. It happens. A lifetime of debauchery, defiling the House of God and his attractive younger followers (old Mrs. Williams from number 48 can just FUCK OFF! I have no interest in her withered dugs…) and generally being Ever-Metal’s resident libertine and sex pest takes a mental toll, and combine this with a job that requires considerable mental fortitude and colossally long hours and my ever more speedy entropic rush towards the grave (yes, for I have now passed the halcyon days of my mid-forties and am now skidding towards the grave. If my mother had crossed her legs I could be two weeks younger!) and a dog who seems determined to kill himself and simultaneously cost me a fucking fortune at the vet (Sir Zeusington Zeus, KCVG, VC, MM, DFC and Bar has eaten something that does not even qualify as food YET AGAIN!) I have been compelled to deal with some next level depression and anxiety. It has now been beaten back into its little hole in my mind and the lid slammed and padlocked shut.
As this has happened to me, it makes it even more imperative that you all follow My gospel. Love each other and look after each other. Ask the normally garrulous friend who’s being unnaturally quiet whether they are well. Make sure your people are safe and well. Love without measure. And do it without constraint. Thus spake Dark Juan…
Now all that tedious nonsense is out of the way, I am listening to a very interesting split from Howling Giant and Sergeant Thunderhoof based on the legend of two Japanese swordsmiths, Masamune and Muramasa, who once competed to create the finest sword there has ever been. Now, if you’re me, this is a fucking awesome concept and already this record has my interest simply because I’m a simple twat who is easily distracted. Each song (there is only two on the record) clocks in around the twenty-minute mark. Which tells you immediately you are in for some sprawling, experimental stoner rock.
First up is Howling Giant with ‘Masamune’. This is not the kind of music you expect to emanate from Nashville, Tennessee, where this power trio are from. Instead of old-fashioned rock and roll, you get dirty DIRTY fuzzed out grooves and huge drums. The song, although lengthy, does not drop away from your interest for a second. It is an epic composed of several easily readable parts which flow easily into each other and make for a mightily satisfying whole. The guitar work is solid, if unexceptional, but the sheer majesty of the riffs in every part is absolutely undeniable. The riffs are colossal. Absolutely fucking massive riffs, mate. The vocals are impassioned, clear and the lyrics interesting and easily heard (too much stoner depends solely on the power of the riff and to fuck with everything else) and the bass and drums are more than adequately meaty. I have been seated upon the sofa, sipping upon a glass of absinthe, with my eyes closed and have been transported into galaxy sized cosmic green-tinged soundscapes and it has to be said I have been fucking enthusiastic about it. Howling Giant have written a fucking good song and you should all check them out. My bank account is protesting already.
Next up we have Somerset based British psychedelic bruisers Sergeant Thunderhoof. Rather more experimental (emphasis on the mental) than Howling Giant’s more polished take on stoner/ doom, this bunch of cosmic time travellers have taken the more elemental parts of psychedelia and rock and fused them (in the heart of a red dwarf star) into the kind of metal that’s heavier than a pair of titanium underpants. ‘Muramasa’ is less of a song and more of an event horizon. Absolutely saturated in fuzz and possessing a bass sound that surely has cost the souls of a number of members of the band, this song is a much more single-minded entity than Howling Giant’s. Whereas the Nashville band opt for loud and quiet parts and obvious movements in the song, the Hoof (this is what they are going to be called because I simply cannot be arsed to type Sergeant Thunderhoof every time) go straight for the jugular and their track is one long, long cohesive entity. One long drug fuelled, incredibly heavy experience, underpinned with some truly amazing vocals from Mr. Dan Flitcroft. The drums are also noticeably more prominent than in Howling Giant’s song.
So, here we have a battle royale between Americans and the Brits. Who comes out on top? It’s a riff-off! Howling Giant have the songwriting chops – their song is the more intricately written of the two and has interesting composition on its side, but the mighty Hoof have the galactic heaviness required for this style of music. Vocally, Sergeant Thunderhoof trample all over Howling Giant’s Tom Polzine. Guitar wise – the skills are pretty equal, but the edge goes to the Hoof simply because their sound is so much more massive. As a cohesive piece of work, I’d give it to Howling Giant as their song is the more expansive of the two, willing to go and explore outer ranges of the stars, while the Hoof boys are content to eat a shitload of shrooms and explore innerspace. Both bands employ absolutely majestic riffs that are brutally magnificent and if you’re looking to get into stoner or doom, this is the perfect place to start. A fucking brilliant record, even if I can’t decide whether or not it is an EP or an album because of the forty-minute running time.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System would seriously fail a drug test right now and offers the record as a whole 9/10 for some almost perfect stoner and doom. Howling Giant get 8/10 for their song and Sergeant Thunderhoof 9/10 for theirs. Victory goes to Muramasa!
01. Howling Giant – Masamune
02. Sergeant Thunderhoof – Muramasa
HOWLING GIANT ARE:
Tom Polzine – Guitar and Vocals
Zach Wheeler – Drums and Vocals
Sebastian Baltes – Bass and Vocals
SERGEANT THUNDERHOOF ARE:
Dan Flitcroft – Vocals
Mark Sayer – Guitar
Jim Camp – Bass
Darren Ashman – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.