Nothing Head by HENGERelease date: March 1, 2019
Label: God Unknown Records
Nothing Head is the second album from psych-doom, noise rock beasts Henge. Keen followers of the UK’s underground/live scene will have spotted there are currently two Henges in circulation. I find it’s best not to get them confused. These guys are London based and probably have a shaky claim on having used the name for longer. The other lot claim to be extra terrestrials and are a kind of Mighty Boosh version of Gong. A cartoon imagining of a psychedelic rock band whose costume based antics make even Evil Blizzard seem dignified. Like shiny and grubby sides of the same musical coin Wrong Henge are all psychedelic style and no illegal substance while this Henge are more of a brown acid proposition.
The cover of Nothing Head features an ecstasy tablet bearing the band’s logo which, unknown to them, had been circulating in London a couple of years ago. I expect it’s a slightly baffling discovery for a young, pretty low profile, band to make. Clearly, they’ve found it funny or weird enough to put it on the cover but this is not an ecstasy party record by any means, it’s very definitely stoner rock. Heavy lidded, sinking back into a destroyed sofa, shirt covered in crisps and tiny burn holes type business.
Still, on opener ‘Compressor’ they lean more to the desert rock descriptor. It’s slow and warm, with a heat haze sway and some of that wide open space you get with Earth. ‘The Sea’ slows things down a little more, guitar lines glimmer like light on the waves. It’s calmer, becoming softly trance like. Then the vocal starts. Wailing, indecipherable and dueling with some deeply fried cry baby guitar squall. The next couple of tracks come in under three minutes each, almost unheard of brevity for this type of thing. A little more song-like they still maintain the sludge paced feel of dragging yourself up a muddy bank and slide into each other like two halves of a longer piece.
The second half of the album gets heavier, crawling home into the dank basement. Looking back over your shoulder ‘The Sea’ seems to have been an impossibly pretty mirage. Far from cuddly, ‘Teddy Bear’ brings darker, sharper edged riffs before they really stretch out on ‘Dracila’. Churning and claustrophobic it drags relentlessly on until it ends in an echoing coda like an exhausted beast collapsing in a cave. The last track starts on about three minutes worth of effects drenched ambient weather and it feels like the album might play out on these dust clouds of noise, whistling signals in humming wires. Then the drums and guitars come in with renewed focus, the pace is quicker, they move with a purpose, roaring and spitting. After trudging heavily along a path that seems to melt beneath their feet they make a relative sprint for the finish, finally coming to a surprisingly sudden stop.
Aside from being mistaken for another band with the same name, Henge are also quite likely to tire of comparisons with Pigs x7 but, well, it’s even in their press release because it’s definitely the obvious nod to make. More accurately somewhere between Pigs and Blown Out, if they were from Newcastle you’d suspect the involvement of the usual culprits. Nothing Head is Sabbath heavy, AmRep ugly but not as suffocatingly oppressive as a lot of doom can get. If you like this kind of thing you should definitely put this on. Just a soon as you get back from the all night garage.