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Dead Meadow | Howls from the Hills | review | stoner | rock | Lollipop

Dead Meadow

Howls from the Hills (Tolotta)
by Brian Varney

Picking up more or less where last year's self-titled debut left off, Howls from the Hills is another batch of homegrown psych, albeit with several important changes. The recording is noticeably better this time. If I recall correctly, the debut was recorded in the band's practice space, so the results were a bit more challenged in the fidelity department. Howls From the Hills, though far from hi-fi (some sonic roughness is, after all, par for the course with this sort of thing), has a nice, fat drum sound and a fuller, deeper mix, which allows the songs to pack a bit more wallop. A good example is the epic "One and Old," where a huge, meandering guitar riff and Sabbath-esque lurch give way, in the song's closing minute, to a serene, almost pastoral psychedelia. Though this song wouldn't have been out of place on the debut, I daresay the effect would not have been the same, since the warm, atmospheric recording impacts the song's emotional impact nearly as much as the notes themselves.

Also worth noting is "The One I Don't Know," a creepy acoustic dirge which sounds something like the cry of a haunted house. In addition to acting as a sort of change-up, it also intensifies the eerie, almost evil vibe of the album as a whole.

I still wish, as I did with the debut, that the vocals were a bit better. Their high-pitched, almost breathy quality seems to not quite jell with music, although I do find that they bother me less as the songs and the band get better.


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