Saturday 29 July 2017

LowFlyingHawks - Genkaku (Album Review)

Release date: August 25th 2017. Label: Magnetic Eye Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Genkaku – Tracklisting

3.Virgin Witch
4.Space Wizard
7.Sinister Waves

Band Members

Dale Crover - Drums
Trevor Dunn - Bass
Buzz Osborne - Vocals and Lyrics on Tracks 1 and 4
Toshi Kasai - Vocals, Fx and Guitar on Track 4
AAL - Guitars, Vocals
EHA - Guitars, Lead Vocals


LowFlyingHawks makes a welcome return with Genkaku. LowFlyingHawks released a monumentally stunning and heavy album almost two years ago with Kōfuku. On that album multi-instrumentalists AAL and EHA were helped on their sonic quest by Dale Crover and Trevor Nunn of the legendary group The Melvins. 

Their debut album was produced by Toshi Kasai. Now the band have returned with those key people intact but this time they have brought King Buzzo along for the ride and he provides his incredible talents to some of the albums best moments on Smile and Space Wizard. Though I'm getting ahead of myself.

Genkaku is a different sounding album compared to their debut album. As that album was more drone based compared to this one. Genkaku sees the band stepping back from the drone based noises and opting for a more riff driven affair. As LowFlyingHawks deliver a more involving highly emotional affair.

Opening track - Smile - is a psychedelic sludge/doom/noise rock odyssey with the vocals being remarkably heartfelt and full of remorse. The lyrics are quite emotional with the music containing dark moments of gloomy riffs. The distorted sounds from their debut album make a welcome return but are played for minimal effect in the background. King Buzzo makes an appearance on this track and you his razor sharp vocals add a more decidedly heavier approach. The song becomes heavier and perhaps more Melvins sounding for the first time. Though LowFlyingHawks main members still hold their own against their famous pals.

Second track - Uncool - opens with a distorted heavy guitar riff with drums being added at a very slow pace. The psych based sounds come swirling into the background and the vocals echo from far way. The song is a twisted and melodic version of Sludge/Stoner Rock with elements of Doom and Noise keeping the mood going. The album has a more progressive edge than their debut album and this song ranks as another one of the albums standout tracks.

Genkaku is a very dark album and the first two songs deliver on that promise with supreme confidence. The next two tracks Virgin Witch and Space Wizard - move the album into heavier sludge/doom waters with the band settling into a confident rhythm as Virgin Witch has some of the albums bleakest lyrical content with the music being the star attraction yet again.

Space Wizard sees King Buzzo making another appearance on the album and they create the albums standout track. The song does indeed have a familiar spaced out sound with moments of harsh distorted riffs. The vocals are once again moved to the background with them becoming the centrepiece of the song as time passes by.

The final three songs on the album - Hallucination, Twilight and Sinister Waves follow the same musical path with LowFlyingHawks sticking to a winning formula. They do try their hand at heavier riffs as the album stays remarkably exciting and fresh. Even down to the last final moments with the band leaving you wanting more. Genkaku is a very hard album to describe as LowFlyingHawks play so many elements of different music.

It's a much more accessible record than their debut album but it still manages to be a complex and dark sounding album. The production with Toshi Kasai involved is first rate. As Toshi brings up distinctive noises to the forefront of the album as only Toshi can.

Genkaku is one of the most daring and best albums of the year.

Words by Steve Howe
Thanks to Magnetic Eye for the promo. Genkaku will be released on CD/DD/Vinyl via MagneticEye Records from August 25th 2017.