Will Haven - WHVN
After finishing an interview with Will Haven vocalist Grady on their last visit to the UK, we were talking as we walked back to the van. Heíd already been handed a copy of the zine, thanks to someone!, in which Iíd said something like "the vocals could do with some more variety" in the live review. So, Iíd probably not really done myself any favours. As we talked, I mentioned that Iíd like to see some more variety. He agreed. And said that he was possibly going to look for that on the next release. Incidentally, just to scare a few people, Karl from Earth Crisis said a similar thing as we walked back to the Foundry after that interview as well. A common link seeming to be Mike Pattonís vocals. But anyway, why was I saying all that? Oh yeah, cos the new Will Haven is here, and itís time to find out if he was lying to me or not.
First up, the whole album, itís title and whatnot, seems to be built around the idea of radio station in the States. You know, "this is C.A.C.K. broadcasting on your radio", that sort of thing. Thereís plenty of static between some of the tracks, like you were retuning the radio. But no matter how much you retune, youíre probably not going to come across a station playing Will Haven at primetime. Or any other time for that matter. The whole heavyness is still there and no mistake. However, musically itís quite possibly their most exciting album yet. Thereís some small changes and elements of variety, changes of guitar tone and riff, bits of dischordancy and that sort of thing. Nothing drastic, just subtle. But itís enough to retain my interest a little more and go, "well, if only there was a little bit of variation in the vocals". Thereís also some interesting variety in some of the drumming. Not in changes of pace, which is what I personally tend to prefer, just doing something different to the same old same old, If She Could Speak being a prime example, and also a song that if they ever were to release a single, would seem to be as good a choice as any. Jaworski has an interesting "messed up the start" part to it before it gets going. One of the most uptemp ones here, thereís a little hint of the Slayerís in the main riff. Vocally though, well nothingís really changed. Though to be fair, there are moments in Dallass Drake where the shout becomes almost decipherable without a lyric sheet. Subtitles throws in that American peculiarity, the curveball. Itís a minute long thing which is almost just like a drum loop. It feels out of place, yet quite a few of the tracks, such as the aforementioned Dallass Drake, and opening Fresno end with a curiously drawn out piece of background music thatís related, yet not related to the song. Strange.
That slightly more accessible vocal is evident during the bass led start to Death Us Do Part, before the guitar chimes in a much more controlled manner. Thatís something with the whole album, there feels like more control, more structure. Maybe thatís the additional piece of accessibility to this. The music is no lighter, itís just better arranged. Slopez opens with a horror film come Black Sabbath guitar riff. Youíll know what I mean when you hear. Dark, slow and ominous. Though they probably repeat the effect just a bit too laong beore the actual song kicks in. Thereís a touch more variety as well to be found in the spoken word led Bored Miguel, where they just tone down on the heaviness again, and unfold a moody beast of a song. Which is one of the best here. Like most bands, theyíre at their best when they can unwind that tension. Though the couple of minutes of static looking for a station will become very boring very old very quickly.
You know what, there was something I was thinking as this album unfurled itself. And that was, "hmm, this sounds a little like Earthtone9 musically in places". It does. I find that strange, but nice, because itís a role reversal. E9 were compared to Will Haven by people (including me), now Iím doing it the other way round. The thing that sets E9 apart, is that they explore a little more subtlety and dynamics in their music, and vocally that transition, that variation I crave is present. Which tends to put them ahead on points for me. But if this whole heavy hard scene is your bag, then itís like the millenium has come early for you this time round. E9 and Will Haven releasing albums within a few weeks of each other. Some people will have to nip to the chemists if they pick up both albums at the same time. After all, you must practice safe listening.
I think theyíve quite easily pulled off their best, most varied and interesting album yet. No doubt about it. How good really is it? Well, in all honesty, as with most albums, youíll have to ask me in 6 months time before I can tell you what I think there. Initial impressions are "very good indeed".
But, a remix on here? Not sure about that. Uh uh. Hmmm. The track in question is Iíve Seen My Fate. Ok as far as remixes go. Nothing special. Just not sure it works within the whole album, even if it is tagged on to the end just before SIgn Off with yep, more static. Oh, and the Stars And Stripes.
Revelation Records - www.RevHQ.com
Helping You Back To Work Volume 3 - Various.
Hmmm. Iíve just read the K! and Metal Hammer reviews of this. Kind of interesting to compare how different people see things. Both seem to concentrate their focus more on the notion that thereís a few bands on here that are not likely to cause many sleepless nights for those at the top of the charts. Yeah, thatís probably true to an extent. Me? Iíd rather look at the fact that Iíve picked up a 19 track CD with 74 minutes of music by a variety of signed and unsigned UK bands for only £3. And you expect thereís going to be stuff that doesnít tickle the old fancy. Itís just that for me, while K! and MH focus their reviews the way they have, then it would seem unlikely that theyíre going to start covering more of these upcoming bands in their magazines. Or putting them on their CDs. This I think is what they should do, and allow the readers decide if they like them. Instead, they decide for us. And letís face it, thereís a number of bands signed to fairly majoy labels and getting loads of coverage, who ultimately are pale imitations of a sound and are not going to make a big dent on musical history. And it really doesnít matter. Since when did you have to listen to music just because everyone else listens to something? Emperors new clothes? Anyway, what of this compilation. Well, first up youíve got Freebase with the same track featured on the split CD with Medulla, which is reviewed elsewhere. So you can look at that review. Lockdown Still sound like theyíre trying too hard to be American. Before it was Korn, now the hip-hop element really seems to be coming in. Unconvinced. Weíve got a new track from the wonderful Monkey Boy, which just further solidifies the monk rock sound, yet adds a little something to it as well. The album is going to be holy! Elsewhere dBhcrank things up a bit, showcasing that new found extremity in their music. Tyrant have a musically pretty heavy sound thatís let down somewhat by the vocals. Subvert and Cowpuncher who are also reviewed elsewhere in this issue are on there, and thereís a track from new Undergroove signings Charger, with a pure Sabbath riff and vocals which should appeal to fans of the defunct Iron Monkey. Yes, there are some tracks where the vocals let the side down quite a bit. But hey, so what? Jor have that rap thing going in there, mixed with they heavy/light vocal thing. Doesnít stand out from everyone else doing that. FullPhat is not a good name to have, simply because it invites pre-judging exactly what theyíre going to sound like, and yes they do. But thereís a hint of more than that there. For now theyíre in a very large pack however. Powhatton Mill, Turnface and Blunt donít do much for me. Seven Of Nine? Mmm. not really. Apologies to the other bands Iíve missed out. Adopting my contradictory bastard hat, the thing that I would level criticism at, is that it highlights how many UK bands do try too hard to sound American. You can understand it to an extent, because theyíre the only bands that we see making a success of something, or they get shrouded in misplaced legendary status. But when bands just be themselves, and try to let it flow instead, it makes a major difference. Sure, it makes you DIFFERENT, which may be a hindrance initially, but in the long run, itís much better. So yeah, you may not like it all, yeah, there may be some less than inspirational stuff, but, for a cheap price, you can pick this up and decide for yourself. Surely that and encouraging people to have a shot is worth more. Plus you can also wallow in the knowledge that in that one small action, youíve actually done more for the support and encouragement of a UK scene than either of the magazines have done in the last year.
Available on Lockjaw Records.