Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: King Giant - Dismal Hollow (2012)

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Dismal Hollow

King Giant - Dismal Hollow
With a style of doom that sounds straight out of the hollers and hills of Appalachia, rather than the band's verdant Virginia 'burb of origin, the sophomore album from Pimmit Hills' King Giant is an astounding collection of groovy melodies and provocative lyrics. Dismal Hollow, created with traditional blues-heavy doom sensibilities and filtered through a sense of Southern Lost Cause resignation, grasps the concepts established by bands like Black Sabbath and refines them with a uniquely American style of grit and energy.

The first thing that struck me about King Giant's sound was frontman Dave Hammerly's uncanny Glenn Danzig vocal style. With a whiskey-fueled shout more genuine than anything Danzig ever managed, the album begins with Hammerly recounting from a Confederate perspective that fateful April day in Southern history when Robert E. Lee surrendered his sword, and the Army of Northern Virginia, to what was perhaps the inevitable outcome. Phrases such as "if blood was money, the soil would be wealthy" pepper "Appomattox", and the remainder of Dismal Hollow, with a colorful and authentic Southern vernacular that Hammerly projects with convincing effect.

King Giant
Photo: Caroline Deutermann
The fuzzy, groovy riffs generated by Todd Ingram and David Kowalski carry over to the album's second track, "Tale of Mathias", resulting in Dismal Hollow's most engaging cut. Backed by touch of soulful female vocals, Hammerly tells the story of domestic abuse and revenge, another theme all too common within Southern culture. The gritty subject matter stands in stark contrast to the upbeat, foot-tapping melodies - a common aspect of Dismal Hollow that lends weight to the album's overall impact.

Hints of Gary Rossington can be heard in Ingram's solos, particularly on "A Steward's Prayer", while a bit of a Corrosion of Conformity influence lies at the root of many of the riffs. Influences aside, King Giant does an exemplary job of crafting gripping tunes, the mournful "Pistols and Penance" standing out in my mind for its expert use of plucky acoustic leads and somber strings. The simple yet entrancing theme riff of "6 O'Clock Swill" and the mesmerizing instrumental track "Road To Eleusis" are two more highlights on a strong album that benefits from an overabundance of standout moments.

There's not a lot about Dismal Hollow that could be considered innovative, but the exceptional musicianship and songwriting abilities of Virginia's King Giant make this an album that is a must-have for any fan of muddy doom and gritty Southern metal.

Track Listing
2Tale Of Mathias4:58
3A Steward's Prayer6:27
4Pistols and Penance7:58
56 O'Clock Swill7:08
6The Fog7:11
7Road To Eleusis5:08
8O' Drifter7:01
Total Runtime53:21

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