Likely united by the recordings of Ascend, which also featured producer Andy Patterson), the duo that makes up Eagle Twin craft their third full-length experience with some small distance from the droning doom and jammed-out flow of the past towards songwriting that allows for greater storytelling. The spiraling ultra-groove of Gentry Densly‘s guitars is amped up and reigned in due to swapped production staff, giving even more of a High on Fire ah via ‘The Art of Self Defense’ rumble. For the uninitiated Densly is a legend in the world of underground experimental music as the founder of post-hardcore band Iceburn and it’s jazz-fusion collective. His guitar work retains energetic bursts and unexpected trance-like transitions throughout his career and while Eagle Twin is aesthetically stoner doom, his work is never sleepy or tired. In fact their 2009 debut LP ‘The Unkindness of Crows’ was almost too packed with ideas and remains one of the more energetic stoner doom debuts in recent memory.
On Eagle Twin‘s sophomore album ‘The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale’ the sound of the recording masked a lot of it’s nuance with a distant recording. Densly‘s vocals, a mix of Al Cisneros, Scott Kelly, with Nick Cave‘s cadence, were too muted. I more or less skipped over it at the time because it didn’t measure up to their debut. This latest full-length ‘The Thundering Heard’ fully rekindles that early fire of their debut but introduces heavier guitar tone, louder production, and clears the forest often enough to let Densly tell his tales of beasts of creation, destruction, and ritual. The apocalyptic poetry on display here isn’t necessarily the self-involved rhetoric/lore you’d read on a recent Absu record, but it does tell it’s own story through scenes of cataclysm and monstrous movements. I saw it as if the four horsemen of the apocalypse were instead a heard of great elk.
“Elk Wolfv Hymn” is probably the most dynamic and expressive track on the 4 song 43 minute LP. For all of the impressive mixing of High on Fire/Sleep tonality with modern stoner rock riffing it is the quietest moments where I’m most thrilled. Densly’s vocals are suited well for tales of doom and earthly terrors, though he adopts a growly early-Clutch (think 90’s) like tone for “Heavy Hoof” that gives the song, and the middle portion of the record, a bright spot within it’s pervasively foreboding tone. The jammed, bluesy soloing and mountain sized drumming make “Heavy Hoof” a brilliant standout for the new ground it covers as well as a revival of the energy of their 2009 debut. The drumming of Tyler Smith has evolved towards performances that retain presence and interest while still able to merge with, and inform, Densly’s work. Eagle Twin always feel like a collaborative unit with still-electric chemistry after a decade of dooming together and it shines through regardless of what tone the production has shifted towards on each release.
“Quanah un Rama” should be enough to convince you to buy or pass on Eagle Twin but I’d suggest still going in for “Elk Wolfv Hymn” as well. I’d suggest ‘The Unkindness of Crows’ for those left wanting something more diverse and less laid back, but ‘The Thundering Heard’ builds their sound out into something more cohesive and listenable in terms of groove, outsized songwriting, and familiar structures. It is a yarn worth spinning and a mountain of stoner metal informed doom-jammed heaviness that’ll likely creep onto many best of 2018 lists in hindsight.
|Released||March 30, 2018|
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The circle is howling. 3.75/5.0
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