It’s difficult to believe that The Space Between Worlds is in fact Howling Giant’s first full length album. After three solid EP’s, the Nashville, TN band has released their debut album, adding to their consistently heavy and creative catalogue of sci-fi influenced stoner-rock. Released on September 27th, The Space Between Worlds was preceded by the epic pair of Black Hole Space Wizard Parts 1 & 2 EP’s in 2016 and 2017, and the self-titled Howling Giant EP in 2015, which was remastered in March of this year.
On the new album, the band continues in their tradition of producing tight, heavy music with melodic vocals that tell an epic science fiction narrative. If you’re a fan of bands like Sleep, The Sword, or Torche, you’re going to dig the unique hybrid of those sounds that Howling Giant creates. Since the last release, core members Tom Polzine (Guitars/Vocals) and Zach Wheeler (Drums/Vocals) are joined by new bassist and vocalist, Sebastian Balten. Drew Harakal again lends his keyboard talents which really help to fill out and solidify the band’s sound with a consistent organ presence and many tasty synth tones.
According to a statement by the band, the new album “is a concept album that follows the story of a huntress who travels the infinite metaphysical worlds brought into being by the dreams of humankind. In these realms, she encounters a dream eater which threatens to unravel the fabric of reality by devouring dreamers and destroying the dimensional gateways.” The great thing about Howling Giant’s approach to sci-fi is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. They take an almost comic, Mystery Science Theater 3,000 approach to the content, but then out of nowhere, they’ll touch on something that resounds with the listener in a visceral, emotional way. In short, the sci-fi adds to the experience big time. Here’s the track-list for the album:
1. Comet Rider 4:30
2. Nomad 5:10
3. Ghosts in the Well 2:42
4. The River Guide 5:43
5. Ice Castle 4:37
6. Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express 4:04
7. Everlight 7:57
8. The Orb 7:08
9. Stone Giant 6:17
Vocals and Lyrics: All three members of the band lend their vocal talents, creating beautiful three-part harmonies throughout and are notably catchy on tracks like the opener, Comet, and the sword and sorcery influenced track, Ice Castle, which also features guest vocals by Jason Shi of ASG. The rhythm of the vocals is carefully measured and timed, oftentimes giving the vocals a chant-like quality. A good example of this is the track, Everlight, which even features OM chants. The River Guide is the only track to feature a spoken word narrative, which the album thankfully does not rely heavily upon as in past releases. The vocals can also at times be catchy and hilarious, and you’ll find yourself singing along to lyrics like, “The cables are connecting to my face,” as well as, “My engines run on fuel-injected rage,” on Cybermancer and the Doomsday Express.
The guitars are diverse throughout the album, from heavy and driving tracks like The Orb, Everlight, to layers of acoustics on Ghosts in the Well. Also, don’t miss the heavy, chugging guitar riffs, evident on tracks like Nomad and Stone Giant, which also has a killer double guitar lead. There are awesome leads throughout, and the way the walls of guitars blend with the grinding organ is awesome.
The keyboards sound amazing throughout. They provide a wide range of tones from grinding organs like in the opener, Comet, to sci-fi sounding synth interludes such as in The River Guide. The great thing about all of the keyboard layers is that they complement the songs and the other instruments and add vital layers of texture that, though they don’t always stand out, would be sorely missed if absent.
The rhythm section is powerful, consisting of hard driving drums and an amazingly deep and heavy bass. The drums creatively fill most available free space with all kinds of awesome fills and double kick blast beat action. The drums utilize a full set of toms, range from high pitches to thunderously low ones, but there’s also an obvious awareness of when things need to be simplified to make the song even heavier. The bass pairs perfectly with the drums, sometimes creating a tribal quality, like on Everlight. The bass even takes the spotlight with a slow and heavy bass solo on the track, Stone Giant, propelling the song into one of the heavy riffs on the album.
The band has some great merch to go along with the new release, including black and yellow color merge vinyl for U.S. orders, translucent green for UK/Euro orders, CD’s, and a brand new T-Shirt design by Joe Gettler. Their products are going fast. You can find the band on Bandcamp, as well as Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. Thank you for reading the Sonic Sofa. Go in peace and rock on, Sofanauts.
Nov. 9 Steel and Stone 2019 – Asheville, NC