Dismal Hollow

King Giant

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Dismal Hollow Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

King Giant's second full-length, 2011's Dismal Hollow, was reportedly inspired by the secret-history-wreathed Appalachian foothills from whence they come; and while nothing in particular betrays this fact upon first listen, knowing it sure does explains a lot, in the end. On the surface, King Giant's songs consist of relatively straightforward, battleship-sized heavy metal: not fast but not quite doom, simultaneously weighed down by monolithic power chords and given flight by unapologetic fretboard shredding, and rich in parallels connecting them to everyone from trad metal renaissance men Argus to post-metal hillbillies Rwake. Nothing suspicious about that, correct? And yet a darker, mysterious undercurrent nevertheless prevails throughout this album, so that striking songs like "Appomattox," "A Steward's Prayer," and "The Fog" carry deep-seated feelings of desperation and looming dread, hinting at beasts unknown or barely glimpsed behind the veils of our visible reality. Think H.P. Lovecraft and Karma to Burn in equal doses, and you'll be on your way. All of which obviously does nothing to dim the mesmerizing deadlights emanating from any of this material, except when the more linear, frankly rather boring, lyrical storylines found on "Tale of Mathias," "Pistols and Penance," and "O' Drifter" get the band into trouble. No, ironically King Giant's biggest "issue" may be the positively eerie similarities of frontman Dave Hammerly's melodious snarl to none other than Glenn "Evil Elvis" Danzig. Though technically no issue whatsoever, ‘cos the bro can sing, this similarity at times feels like that giant mole on someone's face that makes it impossible for you to maintain eye contact during conversation. Get used to the mole and Dismal Hollow becomes a spectacularly powerful and seductive listen, jam-packed with dramatic cadences, melancholy melodies, and, yes, that disturbing Appalachian je ne sais queer that keeps you looking for clues amidst what superficially appears quite obvious.

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