Neil Fallon (Clutch) needs little introduction. Not only is he an amazing vocalist but his lyricism is unparalleled in its mythology and world-building power. He seems blessed with a true Midas touch as far as side-projects go, with every track he features on (like the guest spot on HARK‘s previous album) turning to gold. What happens when you put him together with three other experienced musicians in a heavy metal band inspired by Iron Maiden and H.P Lovecraft? Dunsmuir happens and excellence happens. Dave Bone (The Company Band), Brad Davis (Fu Munchu) and Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell) joined forces with Fallon to make this beast come alive and alive it is.
The Iron Maiden influences strike hard and true from the onset, with “Hung on the Rocks”, as strong an opener as you can ask for. They become even more pronounced as the album goes along, on tracks like “What Manner of Bliss?” that simply bleed the emotional leads, prominent bass and groove of mid-era Iron Maiden. Fallon’s voice obviously lends momentum to the whole thing, mixing it with his charismatic, preacher-like presence to create a force that’s hard to resist. The lyrics, drawing on the aforementioned H.P Lovecraft, work wonders on his voice in giving the whole package its own distinct vibe and signature.
Their self titled album, released on July 22nd 2016, utilizes all those elements to be a punch in the gut. From all of the projects mentioned above, it perhaps owes most of its other influences to the works of Appice, whose drumming on this album is masterful. Thus, it is a blend of heavy metal with a rougher edge, a bit more fuzz and grandeur introduced from his work with Ronnie James Dio and Sabbath. Whatever exact melange of influences makes this album tick, it’s excellent for when you want straight shooting, traditional heavy metal executed well and with style. And there’s never a bad excuse to listen to Fallon’s unique voice to boot, completing this most excellent of releases.