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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

The Heavils

The Heavils

Review by Mike Korn

Once in a great while, a band comes along that does something truly unique, something that gives the whole music scene a much needed kick in the rear , something that has never really been heard before. Well, the Heavils are the latest such band and I'm proud to say I've seen them emerge from my local scene to the cusp of nationwide prominence. Their debut full-length "The Heavils" is really going to rattle some cages in the heavy music scene.

How to define their sound? Well, throw out standard definitions like "nu-metal", punk and "death metal". Followers of those genres will dig the band but they definitely do not shoehorn themselves into those categories. Much of their uniqueness comes from the bizarre homemade instruments they play, called "meanies". These dudes actually play guitars made from toilet seats, bicycle handles, PVC pipe, etc. And they play them all fretless, even the bass! This results in a quavery, twangy, quirky guitar sound unlike anything I've heard before. It's like berserk surf music but mixed with the skull-crushing riffs of metal. Their material is dense and heavy, with lots of layers, but based on fairly simple riffs and rhythms. It's easy to get into, once you get past the cacophony. Now add to this mix the superb, soulful vocals of Brian Carter, which range from fierce growls (not death growls) to laid-back, jazz-influenced crooning and you have the basics of The Heavils' sound.

The debut offers 15 tracks of varied, distinct metal with a twist. Songs are easily distinguishable and with the exception of the dreadfully indulgent 15 minutes plus instrumental "Kadigimonk", they are all good. I truly think that this record could represent a revolution in the heavy metal sound. Or should I say Heavilution?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Colorblind
A gruff and heavy staccato riff introduces us to The Heavils' sound. On the verses, we hear the twangy "meanie" tones which make them so unique while the rest of the track crushes with brutal force. Brian's vocals are paradoxically raw yet polished at the same time.
Still Awake
We get more of the band's excellent contrast between sheer heaviness and quirkiness here with another killer catchy tune.
Don't Be Afraid
This is one of the noisier tunes on the disc, with guitarist Mossy coaxing some pretty angry squeals from his "meany". It shows the more chaotic side of the Heavils, without losing control.
Undertow
This is a great track that shows the band's maturity. The predominant feeling is ominous and kind of bluesy, but it explodes into some fine heavy riffs in a slower mode. Carter's vocals really show a lot of subtlety.
Dekalb DUI
This is one of my favorites, especially live. It has a weird nervous twangy riff to it that reminds me of 60's TV Show themes like "Batman", "The Munsters", "Peter Gunn", etc, but when those guitars come crashing in, it about takes your head off. Funny lyrics about drinking and driving round it off.
Falling Apart
Another standout here, the song kind of lurches and heaves like a bull in a china shop but manages to be super catchy and heavy. The lyrics are flat out crazy, especially the part about riding a bike in the rain with no shoes!
Eyes Not Mine
What more can be said? It's more of the same Heavils approach...a weird, twangy fretless verse bit and crushing Helmet-style heaviness on the chorus.
Picking Up the Pieces
This starts off with cheerfully distorted riffs as smooth vocals float over the top. It's as close to pop as this gets but once again, the guitars come in with a blast. Quirky does not even begin to describe this tune. This is REAL alternative rock.
Pickle Jar
The jazz/blues influences rear their head here. It starts very, very low-key, with quiet bass and wonderful melodic, smoky vocals from Brian Carter. The chorus again is quite heavy and the main aura here is one of gloom and melancholy.
Think, Don't Speak
This is a very brief tune that thrashes out with speed and fury. It's short and sweet.
Another Way
There's a tough, hardcore-influenced feel to this song, and it features some of Carter's roughest vocals and plenty of guitar distortion from Mossy. I thought this one sounded a bit too disjointed. There's some awesome drumming from Milo, though.
Hard to Believe
This is a typical, hard-charging Heavils tune, not anything outstanding but not in the least second-rate. The rhythm section outdoes themselves here.
Mossy
Obviously dedicated to the band's manic guitarist, the tune has a very heavy, bulldozer-like feel, with a slow crawling riff and pounding drums. Mossy unleashes some ungodly squealing guitar noise on this one!
Coldspot
Another signature Heavils track, this has one of the coolest mid-paced guitar riffs on the whole album. This would be a great song to try and get on the radio.
Kadigimonk
The album's sole misstep, this is a droning ambient instrumental that drags on for more than 15 minutes. The first couple of minutes were actually soothing, the next few were OK and after the 8 minute mark, it's either sleep inducing or a torture test. The guys are showing a different side to their experimentation here. That being said, I would suggest they never duplicate this again.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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