Band – Chickenhawk
Album – ‘Chickenhawk’
Label – Sound Devastation
Release date – Out now
Sounds like – Being killed by Mike Patton’s twin whilst listening to Harvey Milk in reverse.
Chickenhawk kind of terrify me. Okay, that may sound incredibly wet, but yâ€™know, they just sound really, really disturbing. Iâ€™m putting this mainly down to the vocals, because aside from the fact they sound like they were recorded inside a tin full of rocks that has been thrown off a cliff; the sounds made by vocalist Paul AstickÃ‚Â must beÃ‚Â from Clive Barkerâ€™s hell dimension. I think what we need is a crap parallel to justify this: imagine that guy who used to go to your college, but never spoke, but turned up to every lesson, giving everyone the look which plainly said ‘talk/touch/give/interact with me in any way and they wonâ€™t find your body for weeksâ€™; well the soundtrack that would possibly be running through his head as he washes the blood from the boot of his car would be the music of Chickenhawk.
The heavily synthesised intro of ‘Dude-a-tronâ€™ should be the first warning that things arenâ€™t all correct and when the screaming starts it genuinely feels both fantastic and unsettling, especially as the shrieks fade out in a tide of distortion and echoed feedback. ‘Piglosaurâ€™ is an air-drummers paradise, but also the stuff of nightmares. Itâ€™s a screaming tidal wave of corrosive, sludge-encrusted riffs, blood-curdling roars and that jarring sensation of crushing bitter resentment packed into about 3 minutes. Through the wave of razor sharp guitar scrawls a series of almost inaudible wails issue from Astick as he tries vainly to make his ragged voice heard over the onslaught. ‘The Let Downâ€™ has a sickening grinding opening, with teeth rattling percussion that dips into Melvins-worthy grunge, but ten times as brutal and the kind of flourishing feedback that probably induces panic attacks.
‘NASA vs ESAâ€™ is a rumbling juggernaut of noise, content to trample everything in its path under its deliciously thick guitars and reverb. The ending is pure class, finishing up the last 30 seconds with some superb backing vocal shout, that sounds like itâ€™s been recorded in another room, then fed through a pitch modifier to make it even more distorted and then filtered in through the songâ€™s closing bars.
The opening to ‘Minus Infinity Killswitchâ€™ is an excellent touch, substituting Chickenhawkâ€™s trademark heavy rock for some gentle guitar plucking that wouldnâ€™t be out of place on a Boduf Songs album. The storm eventually arrives around the 2 minute mark, and the reeling swagger of punishing power slams home like a truck, whilst the gradual building-block layer of guitars buzzes over the clattering drumbeats like wasps around honey.
This punishing assault continues, with each track about a subtle as a brick to the face at 70mph.
The pounding Mastodon-like stomp of ‘My Name Is Eggâ€™, complete with whispering Patton-esque vocals and the shrieking roar of the songs title in the dying seconds (which I feel should have gone on for much longer for major ‘this is freaking me outâ€™ factor), exemplifies the viciousness of Chickenhawk. ‘Keroseneâ€™ splices vocoder-style whines and glitches into the songs bottoming-out, crushing attack, whilst ‘Mandarin Grinâ€™ has this almost ‘classic rock fed through a distortion pedalâ€™ sound about it and ‘The Pinâ€™ is the result of several men all having a simultaneous mental breakdown in a recording studio. The last track ‘Bottle Rocketâ€™ ends in the best way possible with the only intelligible vocals being the tracks title screamed over a wave of almost stoner-metal destruction.
If you are still reading this, you are a fool.Ã‚Â What you should be doing is heading over to Chickenhawkâ€™s myspace, turning your speakers up to ear-drum bleeding levels and trashing whatever environment you currently inhabit. Wonderful, destructive and disturbing heavy rock that fans of ‘The Pleaser‘-era Harvey Milk, Karp and the other aforementioned acts should definitely check out.
Sound Devastation Records
By Ross Macdonald