After a while as a writer you come to rely on certain PR companies and labels to deliver the goods seemingly without question. In my case Sheltered Life PR and Magnetic Eye Records fall into that category. So when K0fuku by Low Flying Hawks landed in my inbox there was no hesitation as to whether or not I was going to check it out.
I was a little surprised however at how stunned I was by the lumbering yet light post-doom that graced my ears in both sober and chemically-assisted states. Smitten would be an apt descriptor of how I felt about their lethargic, meditative doom laced with cascading melodies and entrancing vocals.
Sheltered Life graciously offered to send me a physical copy after some tweets expressing my adoration and I couldn’t have sent my address fast enough. After a few spins to christen our new car (a very un-doom 2013 VW Beetle named Black Betty if you must know) I leafed through the liner notes. What the Hell?! Joining multi-instrumentalists EHA and AAL were none other than Trevor Dunn (Melvins, Mr. Bungle, Fantömas) and Dale Frickin’ Crover! And it was produced by Big Business’s Toshi Kasai! Righteous! If I didn’t already have your attention…
Other these 10 tracks they keep a consistent pace of slow, brooding and methodically melancholic. The rhythm section (Dunn, Crover) plods along hypnotically as gut-wrenching guitars tear a burning sky asunder. The low end reverberates with an encapsulating frequency and scowling distortion, lulling the listener into a state of semi-lucidity allowing the pained and lamenting vocals (at times not unlike a more low-key Richard Patrick) to worm their way beneath the skin deep into the heart and mind.
It’s not a complicated formula but the way the guitars and bass are layered over the percussion creates a miasma for the ears. Careening and washing over the soul while the bass and drums ground it to dust, the guitars draw the listener into ethereal realms.
Highlights include the climactic build on “Fading Sun” reaching farther than you’d think possible, soaring into the stratosphere only to tumble back to reality through turbulent noise. Also, “Wolves Within Wolves” carries a super groove and transformational and transcendent instrumental passages that lock the body in the physical (toes, heads) but set the mind free. Not to mention closer “Destruction Complete,” a title that speaks for itself.
It’s doom-laden central riff recalls Electric Wizard. An at first subtle then more pronounced Southern sludge/stoner vibe shows up, displaying shades of Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch‘s more psychedelic side. Layered screams hide in the shadows of the psych/doom along with delicate melodies leading to a raucous and cathartic conclusion.
If you’re going to mix devastatingly heavy with gorgeous ‘gaze, this is how it’s done. Like a hot knife through butter Kofuku moves effectively through even the toughest listener’s exterior creating a smooth, glistening liquidity that spreads over the whole, seeping into the pores. It’s a stellar album full of tone both musical and emotional that adapts depending on mood and setting with grace and cunning. Low Flying Hawks have crafted a superb experience guaranteed to leave you transfixed and more than willing to surrender to their songwriting charms and bleak and elegiac yet uplifting atmosphere.
Released February 12, 2016 on Magnetic Eye Records.
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