Release Review: King Giant – Dismal Hollow

Some bands can be compared to whiskeys; give them a bit of time and they mature very nicely. King Giant‘s sophomore album Dismal Hollow is practically swimming in whiskey, a romp through stoner metal infused with a touch of Americana and a full packet of Camels. Hailing from Virginia, they’ve taken the best parts of their début and added a couple of extra touches to create 8 tracks of a strong and catchy formula. King Giant’s influences, while prominent beforehand, are now better integrated into the sound; they tip their hats to Orange Goblin, Kyuss and naturally Black Sabbath, and then get on with the show.

The opening track, “Appomattox”, sets the tone warmly with a grand entrance full of melody and mid-pace stomp. Ingram lays down the Americana in his guitar lines, backed up by the headnodding riffs of Kowalski and organic drumming from Brooks. Walters’ bass work is also fully honored, particularly in the next track “Tale Of Mathias” where the intro has a strong bass presence. The solos leave little to be desired, particularly on the powerful instrumental trip that is “Road To Eleusis”, and a haunting cello augments the doom-laden approach in “The Fog”. Each and every track’s music matches the title, from the bar-room atmosphere of “6 O’Clock Swill”  to the swirling dust on the road of the closing epic yet creepy “O’ Drifter”.

The band’s secret weapon, however, is in Hammerly, the man to whom the pack of Camels is dedicated. His vocals have become lower and raspier, his tales even more storyteller-like, and there’s an undeniable swagger about him, his voice the result of a drinking contest between Danzig and later-era Morrison. Starting off on “Appomattox”, he beckons: C’mon boy, headed to meet your maker/on a windswept field of glory in this Shenandoah Valley”, backed up by a spoken sample from Unionist Joshua L. Chamberlin. Later on, in “Pistols And Penance”, we’re treated to the story of a man who has his way with “a go-go dancer, and a glorious dresser”. Each of these stories in some ways links back to their Appalachian roots, ending with a chilling first-person narrative of a serial hitch-hiker killer as he deliberates what to do with his latest catch; “by the end of the day, the side of the road would be her resting place.”

Every song on this album has its own identity and differences, some more tangible than others. The soulful guest female vocals on “Tale Of Mathias” from Church add a kick to the wife-kills-husband plot, while it’s the drunken sway in the drumming rhythm and solo of “6 O’Clock Swill” that makes it so convincing. The acoustic intro and outro of “Pistols And Penance” are well-executed, as well as the bass intro to “Road To Eleusis”, overall leaving very little room for fault in this release. Only “A Steward’s Prayer” lacks a certain memorability to it, despite the chorus sounding familiar, and is as a result less grabbing than the others, although given the high quality that is hardly a slight.

Those who are panning for metal gold in the creeks of Virginia will surely find a full nugget in Dismal Hollow, and King Giant seem in full swing to continue their upward trend. I would expect this level of accomplishment by a band several releases down the line, so to hear this on a sophomore sets the band in good stead for a strong follow-up. Dismal Hollow should make many a Best Of 2012 list, and comes strongly recommended to both connoisseurs and newcomers to the stoner metal genre.

Tracklisting:
1. Appomattox
2. The Tale of Mathias
3. A Steward’s Prayer
4. Pistols And Penance
5. 6 O’clock Swill
6. The Fog
7. Road to Eleusis
8. O’ Drifter

King Giant are:
Floyd Walters III – bass
Keith Brooks – drums
Todd Ingram – lead guitar
David Kowalski – rhythm guitar
Dave Hammerly – vocals
Guest – Alexia Church – female vox
Guest – Jonathan Stark – cello

More King Giant:
Official Website
BandCamp
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