September 22, 2010 | | 4

King Giant, Southern Darkness

King Giant: Southern Darkness

I’ve lived in this fine state for all but four of my 35 years and not once have I come across a swamp anywhere near the murky, seething bog that Virginia-based King Giant has conjured with Southern Darkness. These boys are channeling some deep-seated, brooding Louisiana or Georgia roots with their self released, debut effort.

Incorporating elements of Black Sabbath, Blind-era Corrosion of Conformity, Nola-era Down and a touch of George Thorogood for a little something extra, King Giant deliver dense, whiskey-soaked sludge and more than enough groove and Southern rock to keep your head nodding through the entirety of this album.

Just about every riff from guitarists David Kowalski and Todd Ingram is instantly memorable and infectious. The low-end rumble of the rhythm section (provided by drummer Brooks and Floyd Waters III on bass) has the demeanor of an approaching F5 tornado. Dave Hammerly’s gruff, raspy vocal work is tinged with just enough malevolence to fit the music the rest of the guys are slinging perfectly.

The collective effort on Southern Darkness brings meaty riffs, thick grooves and one hell of an album that I will be playing repeatedly for some time to come.

King Giant starts off Southern Darkness with “Solace,” a slab of swampy, chunky riffage if ever there was one. Your head will be nodding along in no time as the guys settle into a slick groove. There’s a good bit of a menacing attitude in this one. It’s got a more aggressive edge to it than most of the material on the disc and carries a brooding, dark attitude. Be sure not to miss the bluesy, rocking lead at 4:07. God damned, this is a great way to start off an album.

Burning Regrets
Black Sabbath inspired riffs get this next one started with a doomy, stoner vibe that’s reeking of bong smoke yet is capable of making a smooth transition into a bit of a murky, southern fried bit of metal. The chorus on this one gives you plenty to shout along with. Again, the riffs on this one are instantly memorable and catchy as hell. Man, the drumming is heavy as hell with the slick lead work after the three minute mark. You’ve gotta play this shit as loud as you can handle. Another lead is set to shread at the four minute mark, just in case you missed that first one.

13 To 1
If you haven’t see the video for this song yet, check it out below — it’s exactly what you should picture in your head every time this song comes on. And, god damned, is that a banjo!? How they were able to fit that in with the smooth guitars and beefy riffs is pure genius. Love it! Overall, this one sounds like it could have been pulled from Blind by Corrosion of Conformity, but don’t worry, it’s a very original track in its own right and one of my favorite.

Potter’s Field
The guitar work throughout “Potter’s Field” is slick, carrying a bluesy, rock vibe along with a good bit of sludge. This is a dense track with meaty riffs, thundering bass and a great vocal delivery. This track moves along with a great groove and slick lead work, ultimately swelling to full force as the track ends. Very slick song.

Mississippi River
Man oh man. For as much as this one has a “Bad Things” vibe to it, it’s so much more menacing and dark. It’s a “fun” song in terms of its overall sound/vibe, but don’t let that fool you. It’s full of dark and sadistic undertones — Check out the vocals, sit back and enjoy. Damn, I love this song.

Lady Whiskey
“Lady Whiskey” starts off slowly with lightly played guitar and slowly building drums over distant, spoken vocals. Once the riffs come in, everything gets going nicely. A tale of heartache, this is a solemn track, but with a more open sound compared to the previous songs. It’s a nice transition from the slower “Mississippi River” to the gallop of the next track.

Machine Gun Mantra
Thick bass greets you as “Machine Gun Mantra” settles into a steady gallop that will have your head bobbing in time with the riffs in no time. It’s got a denseness to it as the guitars swell during the chorus that is on the verge of suffocating. A slick lead at 2:30 sets you off in all kinds of directions before settling into that mid-tempo groove once again.

There’s a nice build up to “Hollow” with echoing acoustic guitar, a southern rock vibe and a vocal effect that sounds like COC’s “Voting with a Bullet.” Once the rest of the band comes in, there’s a thick groove that cannot be denied and a nice bit of eerie guitar work. Pretty darn good song.

“Shindig” keeps the slower vibe at the onset of it’s six plus minutes in length, but eventually picks up around 1:40 with some beefy guitars and thundering drums. The vocal work throughout this track is well done, ranging from snarling shouts to menacing spoken lines. The 3:25 mark sees a nice shift if the tone of the band as the pace is picked up a bit more with some slick riffs and a fist full of groove. For such a long track, it goes by pretty quickly ending with a strong finish.

Desert Run
Wow. The guitar work throughout this eight minute and then some song is flat out killer. The song definitely has a western flair to it, but the lead work and riffs are all rock and fucking roll. The opening lead that starts off this epic track is soulful as all get out. I love the riffs and lead combo at the five minute mark! More of that soulful lead that opened up the track appears in the final few moments, but with a bit more reverb and distortion. Damn this is a badass song.

Needle And The Spoon
I’m not the biggest Lynyrd Skynyrd fan — heard too many bad covers of “Freebird” working in bars through college — but this is a pretty darn good cover of their track “Needle and the Spoon.” It’s odd how it fits in with the rest of the sludgy stuff on this album. Well done!

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