Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Heavy America - ...Now (2017)

Written by William Elgin, posted by blog admin

Massachusetts has been a rich breeding ground for powerful rock music since the Eighties.  From the classic rock leaned metal of Only Living Witness to Sam Black Church’s snarling metallic hardcore or even Waltham’s soaring alternative anthems; good music in the area has been in no short supply. The latest in this grand lineage is power trio Heavy America’s blues-tinged mixture of hard rock groove, dirty Seattle vibes and folky rustic Americana.  After a series of singles and an EP, Heavy America presents …Now, a searing full-length brimming with atmospheric, earthy jams benefitting from a weighty guitar presence, gritty melodic vocals and a rustbelt rhythm section full of push/pull dynamics.

Opener “Proud Shame” kicks off with Mike Seguin’s hazy fuzz guitars and rough-hewn melodic vocals ebbing atop of Dan Fried’s pounding backbeats and Budd Lapham’s walking bass lines.  Elements of Son Volt and Woven Hand float to the surface, but knife-edged 70s rock riffs present a grandslam of heft that puts the band in line with some of the more offbeat luminaries from flagship stoner rock record label Small Stone.  It’s a good place to be with results that are retro and refreshing yet original.  “Bleed Mary” toys with softer electric guitar textures colliding into subtle pocket rhythms.  The entire band blends in with back-up vocals to fill in Mike’s lead while musical bombast always lurks on the horizon.  It appears in the form of a barbwire power chord mash-up during the infectious chorus hook.  At 3:45, Lapham presents a mesmerizing little bass lick with the rest of the band dropping out, before hammering their way back in with a crunching rock n’ roll attack and a jangling, exotic guitar solo.

First single “Pray for Me” goes right into the riff meat right from the get go with staccato, sludgy grooves and noisy minor key clatter cutting through the density.  Fried’s drumming is given a real chance to standout here with taut, neck-snapping work on the snare.  The immediacy makes this an obvious choice for single, especially with its punk rock brevity.  Heavy America’s bluesy influence is at the forefront of “Sweet Kisses’” vintage wah pedal squeals and slinky old school boogie, allowing “Casting Stones” to split the different between balladry and bullrush for a unique dichotomy of stylistic sand shifting from Neil Young to Sabbath to Blackfoot.  “Goliath’s” crunchy, chunky stomp keeps the energy high until courses are recalculated into the cosmic, ethereal psychedelic rock of “I Can Take It,” a tune that showcases the band’s affinity for tricked out pedal boards.  Returning to rural Neil Youngisms, “Heavy Eyes” is a laidback jam with country twang, clearing the way for “Achilles Fail” to smash the riff-y guitar rock one more time. 

NOW is a killer piece of work from a band who removes the static silliness of trendy retro rock for a real deal feel that separates the men from the boys.  A few more hooks will push them into the stratosphere but Heavy America is already in the pantheon of greatness.

Grade: A-

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