Genre gene-splicing in heavy metal, as in all forms of music, offers the potential for glorious highs and abysmal lows. When it works, the results can be electrifying, particularly when the differing strands woven together by the music would hit a whole bunch of a listener’s sweet spots individually. Pulling them all together in a way that doesn’t feel jarring but instead seems intuitive and natural compounds the pleasure in ways that just focusing on one style would not (and honestly, sometimes that pleasure derives from a feeling of pleasant surprise that the feat has been pulled off so well).
On the other hand, we are all familiar with the pitfalls of genre-splicing that has gone awry, when bands have strained to do something — anything — different, as a way of standing out from the ever-expanding pack, and the result is a Frankenstein’s monster of stitched-together parts, a forcing together of ingredients that sounds, well, forced-together.
With those observations as a prelude, it will come as no surprise that the subject of today’s premiere — Boston-based Lord Almighty — are a band who pull from different genre wellsprings, and achieve a union among them that in my humble opinion is hugely successful.
The press materials for Lord Almighty‘s new album, Wither, identifies their combination of musical ingredients as an amalgam of black metal, NWOBHM, sludge, hardcore, blues rock, and more. Those PR materials ask us to imagine “Darkthrone, Kvelertak, and Trash Talk joining forces with Mastodon, ZZ Top, and Thin Lizzy“. Which links up with that observation above concerning the high potential of amalgamations where each of the ingredients is a sweet spot standing by itself (at least for this listener, those are all definitely sweet spots).
The proving ground for Wither has already been well-furrowed through the release of three singles — “Cry of the Earth”, “Hour By Hour”, and “Adrift”. And today we add to that list the fourth and final track to be revealed from the album in advance of its October 16 release. The name of this one is “Hooded Three“.
The band do a fine job introducing a simple, moody guitar melody and then picking it up and running with it, adapting it under the influence of two guitars in a way that makes the melody feel more like a sign of pain and desperation. As the song continues to build, the music becomes not just more rhythmically hard-hitting but also emotionally darker. The dual-guitar melody, over a pulsing bass and a head-bobbing drum beat, really does call back to the glory days of Thin Lizzy and other heavy British rock bands from the ’70s.
But Lord Almighty are really just getting started, and about two-and-a-half minutes into the song they rev their engines and take off in a barrage of battering drums, brazen riffing, and bestial snarls. The music is dirty when it needs to be, and clear when it needs to be, and continues to morph in multiple ways, simultaneously straddling multiple stylistic lines. The song becomes a thriller, pitched to zeniths of heavy metal glory with a pair of pyrotechnic solos, and is the sort of thing that you need to hear again immediately.
If you haven’t yet managed to catch all of the other three singles from Wither that are out in the world (and you really should), we’ve made that easy for you by including all the streams below.
Credit for the wonderful cover art goes to Adam O’ Day. The album is available for pre-order now: