King Giant - Black Ocean Waves (Own Label)

Got cerebral bludgeon?
Release Date: 
29 Jun 2015 - 11:30pm

Housed in a sleeve that automatically spark connections with pomp-rock legends Kansas (in my mind at least) with its seafaring motif and classically Americana-infused style, Black Ocean Waves, the third full-length outing from Virginian metallians King Giant is actually an utterly nerve-jangling exercise in the dark and the depressive, as far removed as it’s possible to be from the originators of Dust in the Wind whilst still notionally operating in the same heavy rocking genre.

Despite hovering on the depressive side of the tracks, the music of King Giant is actually strangely appealing; A heavy, dirgy simplicity underpins much of what they do, the band never overcomplicating when straight up bludgeon will do. That said, guitarists Todd Ingram and David Kowalski are no slouches, their playing on tracks like the excellent Red Skies in particular being a delight to listen to, Kowalski providing the wall of sound upon which Ingram lays down some rather nifty aural graffiti.

And then there’s vocalist Dave Hammerly, a man with a neat line in stentorian bellowing, who comes across as equal parts Glenn Danzig and Sponge mainman Vinnie Dombroski (with a smidge of the Raygun Girls’ enigmatically-monikered Geoff layered over the top), and who dominates proceedings with an impressive performance that gives the band’s at times tending-to-the-prosaic sonic assault a real point of difference. On Trail of Thorns he excels himself, delivering an energetic, compelling performance that is again admirably supported by some fine lead work from Ingram.

Despite most of the songs being short, sharp caustic attacks on the senses (only a couple of tracks exceed the six minute mark) there’s an undoubted air of the epic about Black Ocean Waves; The grasp of dynamics displayed throughout by KG is top-drawer, enabling the band to cover more ground in five minutes than many so-called ‘progressive’ titans can manage in songs three times the length, and that lends an air of urgency and excitement to everything featured here. Whilst BOW is probably just a couple of songs short of ‘classic’ status, it ain’t far away, and there’s certainly plenty here for fans of meaty, cerebral riffage to get their teeth into.