Sunday, 15 April 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Eagle Twin, "The Thundering Heard"

By: John Reppion

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 30/03/2018
Label: Southern Lord Recordings

“The Thundering Heard” is a dense and rich record; full of aural and textual interest. It’s a record that makes you think, makes you imagine.  It is a visceral, heavy, epic Riff Monster of a record with horns of flame and hooves of stone.

“The Thundering Heard” CD//LP//DD track listing:

1). Quanah Un Rama 
2). Elk Wolfv Hymn
3). Heavy Hoof
4). Antlers of Lightning  

The Review:

Longhorn running ‘cross the dead salt sea / Mountains rising up like beasts with horns like trees / Antlers reaching high, like a forest… On fire!”

The Thundering Herd (Songs of Hoof and Horn)" is Eagle Twin's third full-length album, following on from 2012's "The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale" and 2009's "The Unkindness of Crows". Like its predecessors “The Thundering Heard " deftly blends crushing, yet hypnotic riffs and beats, with American literary Folk Horror. Which is pretty impressive for a two-piece, really.

“Quanah Un Rama” (a fittingly bicornuous title based on Hellboy's Enochian name "Anung un Rama”, and Quanah Parker, Comanche war leader of the "Antelope" people…possibly) opens with a harmonic drone from vocalist/guitarist Gentry Densely’s throat. At once bestial and like some primal religious vocalisation, this inhuman sound underpins much of the record. Then a Big Fat Riff kicks in. And it is Massive. Truly earth moving. The guitar sounds (right across the record) are just… wow. More Om than Sleep, but with all the groove and swagger of the latter. The track jams on and on moving from part to part, texture to texture, but the same narrative remains throughout; every progression is a natural and necessary, and another chapter of the same story. When Densely chants “Come now / Thunder / Come now / Thunder cloud” over Tyler Smith's tribal tom-work, it sounds like a genuine summoning. You will believe that the sky above the studio was black that day.

“Elk Wolfv Hymn” swells in dreamily, yet ominously. We huddle close to the wilderness campfire for another folk-tale of stags and vultures and trees, of mountains and antlers and wolves. And in that same magical way Earth managed with “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skul”l, there’s something so incredibly American about the actual sound of the music itself. The wild, untamed, real America where bears and mountain lions and alligators think nothing of cracking and crunching the bones of humans to get to the marrow within. And crow keeps watch all the while.

“The Heavy Hoof clips / The Heavy Hoof clops / And the Heavy Hoof stamps on your grave”. Another massive riff. Another tom thumping groove. Another absolute belter of a tune, which seems to threaten to evolve into the heaviest version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” you could possibly imagine at one point. But that doesn't happen.

“Antlers of Lightening” begins as pure Sabbath Doom: lumbering, tritone laden heaviness with proclamations of the terror to come in the form of the lightning antlered one. Again through, as the music evolves, the guitar becomes more frenetic, and everything builds and builds and builds, we get an idea of the emerging narrative. We hear the destruction wrought by the electo-horned deity, and the fate of those who dared to try to stop it. About ten minutes in it seems for one moment like we're going to get an actual “Children of the Grave” style chug-a-chug-a-chug-chug breakout riff. Instead things slow back down and jam out until we reach the bitter-sweet outro of the album. A gentle but melacholic ending, like a cold dawn breaking.

The Thundering Heard” is a dense and rich record; full of aural and textual interest. It’s a record that makes you think, makes you imagine. It very much brought Algernon Blackwood’s Weird Fiction tales The Wendigo and The Willows to my mind; tales of the wilderness and the things which walked there long before man ever did. All that said, “The Thundering Heard" is not some deep-thinking, post-something, soundtrack to an unmade movie. It’s a visceral, heavy, epic Riff Monster with horns of flame and hooves of stone. 

“The Thunder Heard” is available here

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