Howling Giant Headline a Killer Heavy Psych Triplebill in Queens Next Week
One of the best metal and heavy psychedelic triplebills of the year is happening this March 15 starting sometime after 7 at TV Eye in Ridgewood, where Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager open the night, followed by the more eclectically noisy and considerably heavier Restless Spirit, and then shapeshifting heavy psych band Howling Giant. Cover is $15
Sun Voyager are natives and used to play around here a fair amount, at least before the lockdown, but the other two bands have been conspicuously absent until recently. One good record to spin for the show is Howling Giant’s 2019 vinyl release The Space Between Worlds, streaming at Bandcamp. Why this album and not their most recent ep? Because the central narrative is about a huntress who has to fight off a mythical dream eater. As Tessa Lena has chronicled, what better metaphor for the last three years of hell?
It’s also a good capsule of what the band bring, live: stoner sludge with frequently tricky post-Mars Volta rhythmic shifts and terse guitar solos. Drummer Zach Wheeler hits a couple of martial flurries, then launches into an impressive lithe forward drive for such heavy music as guitarist/frontman Tom Polzine builds a dense wall of chords and bassist Sebastian Baltes holds down the gritty lows in the album’s first track, Comet Rider. Organist Drew Harakal adds swirl; Polzine hits his pedalboard and fires off a couple of tantalizingly brief solos.
The band slow down for Nomad, Polzine’s chiming loops over a murky drift through deep space. Again, he could have taken ten times as long with that first wah-wah solo and nobody would be complaining.
Ghosts in the Well is a surprising and rewarding detour into slow, mythical acoustic folk, followed by The River Guide, a mini-epic as Sleep might have done it thirty years ago, with an unexpected dream-nebula interlude.
Ice Castle begins with fuzz, tasty doublebass drum volleys and then the band pick up steam with more of a doomy, vengeful atmosphere and smoky organ. “They’re building a machine hiding in the wasteland,” Polzine announces, “The lab is overrun,” as he and the band launch into Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express, a thrashier, more 60s flavored dash through the gloom.
Harakal adds glimmering electric piano textures to the album’s most hypnotically swaying, drifting track, Everlight. The band pick it up, then descend to a lull with Wheeler’s shamanic beats before rising to a hammering attack where the bass finally cuts loose.
They slowly sway their way to a pummeling battle scene and then some venomous tremolo-picking from Polzine in The Orb. Does this space odyssey end well? It would seem so from the final cut, Stone Giant, but at the twin solos hover over the torrents of organ and the relentless, ornate drums, the message is “watch your back.”