Heavy Winged's approach to the electric three-piece format has resulted in plenty of often frenetic shows and what seems like thousands of releases; but this is part of the reason why it's so good to be following the rock underground of the 21st century -- you'll never have to wait long for something new. Sunspotted finds the productive-and-then-some group on a high, with two vinyl-side-long tracks revealing the band at one of its most varied moments, tackling everything from total sonic extremity to near ambient calm. "Breathe Life" kicks in with a high-speed jam that's more jazz-thrash than power trio, Jed Bindeman's drums appearing almost to melt into themselves. But this turns into slower, free exploration, a big sprawling punch that could just as easily come from any of Japan's own best examples of sonic intensity one could name. It all slows down even further as the song progresses into an elegant afterglow, guitarist Ryan Hebert's performance helping shade and lead the rest of the performers beautifully. "Vapor Trails" is all evil build at the start, downbeat slow riffs with Brady Sansone's bass anchoring them like a monster. But this then builds up in turn into a slow soaring float, reaching for the sky while still anchored, barely, before moving into a gentle extended conclusion and distant clatter and feedback burr suggesting how much the bandmembers love not only to play together but to push each other as they go. It's another highlight from an excellent, still too underrated group.
by Ned Raggett