Freedom Hawk - Beast Remains

Freedom Hawk Beast Remains cover
Freedom Hawk
Beast Remains
Ripple Music
2018
8
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Liberally soaring out of the Old Dominion is Freedom Hawk with its latest, fifth full-length release (under Ripple Music), “Beast Remains”, an ineluctably hard-driving and gripping stoner metal offering comprised of eight loosely rocking yet laser precise tracks spanning close to forty minutes and joyfully bringing to mind a pumped-up and catchy cross between Fireball Ministry and Kyuss, while portentously evoking scorched desert vistas as well as debonair, non-committal cruising vibes in a similar vein as Red Hot Chili Peppers in its heyday i.e. the mid 90s (insert rabidly flipping and massively contented emoj here!).
 
The Tidewater, Virginia band, comprised of front/ax man T.R. Morton, Brendan O’Neill on guitar, bassist Mark Cave and drummer Lenny Hines, launches straight into its fiery brand of laid back and fluid albeit stout overtures with a couple of instantly appealing knuckle-dusters in “Solid Gold” and “Danger”, which showcase Morton's exemplary and thick, lower mid-ranged, richly inflected vocal delivery – at times, he distinctively sounds like Anthony Kiedis – as well as bright, smoky guitar riffs/melodiously furrowing and syncopating pentatonic leads (the wickedly unfolding solo on the latter parallels Armand John Anthony's stellar performance on Night Demon’s “Darkness Remains”) to the backdrop of Cave and Hines punchy and rotund battery, the lot of it duly enhanced by a masterfully well-rounded level of production highly reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s Lady Beast. Need I say more?
 
OK, I will! As much as I dig said opening cuts, brace yourselves for the stalwart likes of “Brutal Winds” and “Deep Inside”, as their self-propelling and catapulting paces are quite literally addictive and will undoubtedly impinge themselves on your psyche for time immemorial. Frankly, I can’t enough of the former’s festive as fuck and sky-high introductory verse, which also reminds me of The Sword’s free falling accelerations, namely off the Austinites’ “Warp Riders” LP:
 
“The wind blows across the Northern Sea,
Towards the dunes that move seas out of the way
Waves crash against the rocks all day
To the mist we fairly play
On the beach there's a friend out there
In sight of a girl with long black hair!”
 
Although I likely fudged its superimposing, bear in mind deciphering ambiguous lyrics/auditory hallucinations is part of the game!. Essentially, every track rocks to the fullest, as even the more wistful and poppy single/dewtube sampler “Darkness and the Light” manages to enrapture with its reassuring, cradling rhythm and – wait for it! – “languid” momentum (I’ve become a willing slave to this word!). Amidst Morton’s enchanting chorals, multiple reverb laden instrumental passages and seemingly wah-induced, psychedelic blues soloing permeate the album with a floating, watery undertow, which makes it sound better with every listen despite its inherently high level of accessibility. Alternatively, the token dark, more ruminating title track lends a rather refreshing “doom” element to the proceedings.
 
As formidable as Morton’s chops and vocals are, props are in order for Cave’s fore-running and spidery bass playing, locked in tight and fast as it is with Hines’ rock steady and barreling (as well as barging!) drumming attack. Equally of note are the downright slambashing and hat smashing tuck and rolls, which so fervently set off “Coming After You”, another top toe-tapping/finger and ginger snapping highlight where Morton astoundingly rules the mike with his amusingly nasal and choppily curt vocals, as well as late ante-upping spectral crooning – consider this one yet another bonafide IKEA benefiting chair slinger!
 
Lastly, the closer, “Champ” (at first glance, possibly a wry tribute to Lake Champlain’s elusive aquatic monster), comes around full circle and ends things on a resolute high note as it sounds like a wayward bonus track from Fireball Ministry’s “The Second Great Awakening” or “Their Rock is Not Our Rock”... Holy gamoly! As great as Freedom Hawk’s “Beast Remain” is, its previous releases, from the 2008 debut, “Sunlight”, to the more recent “Into Your Mind” from 2015 sound just as competent and “old school” cool. That said, I’ve unabashedly gleaned my newest fetish band!
 
Ultimately, I strongly urge my fellow stoner metal and desert rock compadres to pounce on this gem, as fast as they can and fully guarantee their fare share of jubilation.

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