Beast Remains by Freedom HawkRelease date: March 23, 2018
Label: Ripple Music
While there have been staggering amounts of bands under the stoner rock moniker over the years unable to escape from the clogged-up, dope-smoke filled density of sounding only like Kyuss and Fu Manchu, there are current notable exceptions. Earthless and Freedom Hawk are proving that a stoner rock influence can still inspire and elevate beyond the genre’s sometimes generic sound limitations. It would be unfair, and wrong, to lump these bands purely as stoner rock but it is fair to say, especially with the latter Virginia Beach combo, it was a starting point for them to then expand out. And expand out they have done physically so, prior to the making of 5th album Beast Remains with the addition of Brendan O’Neil as a second guitarist.
This does not necessarily mean there is a thickening up of their sound but continues with the leaner, concise production of previous album Into Your Mind. When a certain major monthly Heavy Metal magazine publication seems to be pushing evermore into looking for the next extreme metal band and a new extreme sound, it is refreshing to still have bands just delivering stonking tunes you can groove and singalong to. And this is what Freedom Hawk do so well, soul pleasing riffs, jaunty tempos, among the Ozzy Ozbourne, Eric Wagner (Trouble) melodic toned vocal duties by T.R. Morton.
So, while not necessarily going to be filed under genre breaking, this is simply a darn fine hard rock album, and so refreshing for their focus and intention on consistently turning up the melody dial to eleven. And, also going against the grain of starting with the strongest songs first the Beast Remains starts good and then gains a furthering galloping speed of head nodding activation. Right from the off with the raise the horns chugger ‘Solid Gold’, continuing with ‘Danger’, ‘Darkness and the Light,’ and ‘Brutal Winds’, Freedom Hawk deliver almighty rock tunage.
The album feels like it’s building up to its concluding standout highlights. As the band hit you with their finest latest offerings starting with a strident, confident up-tempo drive on ‘Deep Inside’. Then the album highlight, ‘Coming After To You’, as it surfs along at an unstoppable NWOBHM spirited charge of a wave. Including a slowing down mid-tempo break which serves to then unleash an even greater urgency to the finish line. This has the potential to be one of my rock/metal tracks of the year. Then the album closer ‘Champ’ is no come down; a bouncy pile-driver, it brings old school rocker delight as it ends with a Thin Lizzy twin guitar duel, and ultimately leaves you wanting more.
There may only be eight tracks but why include a couple of fillers to pad out and, ultimately, dilute the impact. Sod sub-genres, this is just a darn fine rock album (I know, I’ve said it twice in case for those at the back not paying attention) with killer tunes. And rock/metal doesn’t need a re-branding or a blinkered boundary pushing ethos when there are bands like Black Moth, Earthless and Freedom Hawk, among others, all embracing the best of rock’s past to deliver top quality, distinctive, contemporary killer rock goodness. Freedom Hawk’s Beast Remains, could be code for tunes intact. Amen, to that.