February 16, 2012 | | 4

King Giant, Dismal Hollow

King Giant: Dismal Hollow

Hot on the heels of their debut, Southern Darkness, Virginia’s King Giant is poised to let loose with a sophomore album that still carries a similar southern sludge and doom vibe, but also a matured sound that is sure to propel them into more national recognition. Dismal Hollow’s subject matter ranges from the Civil War to backwoods lore to murderous confessions, a theme that was first developed in what I thought was an outstanding first effort.

The highlight on Dismal Hollow is it’s opening track, “Appomattox.” With martial drums, marching riffs and Dave Hammerly’s southern drawl, the song encompasses all that these guys are about — bluesy, southern sludge with a tinge of malevolence. It’s got a sound that is at times epic and sweeping, yet still accessible and catchy despite it’s over six minutes running time. Following up the Civil War tail is the story of a wife’s murderous confessions set to airy, catchy guitars and Hammerly’s well timed enunciation. Just like with Southern Darkness, the guitars (David Kowalski and Todd Ingram) on the band’s sophomore effort seamlessly slide between bluesy riffs, southern sludge and soaring leads with little to no effort — all the while keeping that shroud of the oncoming doom and darkness present.

There’s a nice thundering bit of doom (the base of which is provided by drummer Brooks and Floyd Waters III on bass) within the bluesy riffs of “A Steward’s Prayer,” not to mention one of the more soulful leads on the album. “Pistols and Penance” slows things down initially with an acoustic intro that fits the overall tone of the album quite well before ramping up things slowly to become a powerful and dense song. The infectious guitars of “6 O’Clock Swill” will have you nodding along in no time along with it’s darker tones and feeling of despair.

The six and a half minute “The Fog” slows things down with lurching guitars that have a mired-in-the-swamp vibe as Hammerly’s vocals move slowly from the speakers. This is one of the slower moving songs, yet never feels like it overstays its welcome during the near seven minute long duration. It’s a powerful song that transitions smoothly into the instrumental “Road to Eleusis.” The closing track,“O’ Drifter,” wraps up the album appropriately with a dark motif and bluesy riffs.

Southern Darkness may have had catchier songs, but each track on Dismal Hollow not only coexist with one another perfectly, but they also are able to stand out on their own. This second full-length is darker in tone with a solid atmosphere of malevolence seeping in from the edges of the King Giant‘s brand of southern sludge. This is an album that continually grows on you each and every time you listen to it.