haarp - "Husks" (CD/EP)
"Husks" track listing:
Reviewed by buickmckane on August 16, 2012
I would like to address some things that need to be considered before talking about this album. One of the main driving forces of the music has left the band and, therefore, the songwriting dynamics have changed. As for the number of songs, the album is technically an EP, but has a full-length playing time. The band’s variety has never occurred between songs, but rather in the changes in the midst of a singular track, so there’s no reason to discount this album for the number of songs present.
There is an instant barrage of sound, more outwardly aggressive than previous albums, on “Deadman/Rabbit.” It is immediately noticeable that “Husks” has a very clear sound for a band that has a sludge pace. Vocalist Shaun Emmons’s tyrannical, yet still self-flagellating, voice bellows deeply. He does vicious growls that range from very low to a screaming high without changing the ferocity. In “Fox” especially Shaun has some amazing range. Shaun’s voice may be the only thing with some consistency as the music changes tempo and mood rapidly, but smoothly. For example in “Deadman/Rabbit,” the tempo slows down to a groove for several minutes then blasts without warning,into a faster, meaner part to confound the listener. The song then slides into a mid-paced, headbanging section that I can already tell fans will learn the words and scream along to. If ever haarp was described as monotonous, you would never know it with this album; there are clear tempo and melody changes that occur pretty frequently.
Guitarist Grant Tom does amazing work on the guitar and it seems to me that he has a bit more freedom to play his beloved heavy riffs. He even plays a few solos that seem almost blues-rock influenced. Grant does well with making those subtle tones that transcend the incredible weight of the music that add a silver lining to the sound. Helping him with that task is drummer Keith Sierra as his cymbal crashes add that out-of-the-din punctuation. He always holds the pace so well with his drums and is perhaps the driving force behind the tempo changes, never playing one thing for very long. During those slower, more minimal parts, he doesn’t play or plays softly, then rises up to refocus your attention like in “Fox.” He ends the album with a sporadic drum rhythm that goes on for the last two minutes.
This album is very balanced, as its some of the heaviest stuff ever made, but with those tones of airiness and ambience that lift it up just enough. It has a way of allowing you to slip away in a groovier part and then reclaiming your attention. It surges, ebbs and flows until the album almost seems alive.
Highs: Great clarity, great variety, great sound.
Lows: The bass could have been a little louder.
Bottom line: Quite possibly haarp's best album.
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