This Low Flying Hawks article was written by Macon Oxley, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.
Low Flying Hawks‘ doom-laden ‘Kōfuku’ marks an impressive debut for these rough-edged noise merchants. A feast of the heavy, characterised by crushing guitars, slogging drums and drone-y soundscapes, ‘Kōfuku’marries mid-eighties noise pop with the metal might of Black Sabbath.
The title – the Japanese word for surrender – is the perfect descriptor for this album. The sheer weight of the riffs and the constant barrage of noise provide an aural assault that demands the listener to submit, and to immerse themselves entirely in the sonic devastation.
A sparse, void-like production, ‘Kōfuku’ bears the hallmarks of post-rock and shoegaze, owing as much to bands like My Bloody Valentineand The Jesus and Mary Chainas it does to the more heavy influences. Hardly surprising, then, to find that Low Flying Hawksis in fact the brainchild of fellow Melvinsalumni Dale Crover and Trevor Dunn (also of Mr. Bungle) – a pair very much seasoned in the art of sludge-ridden noise rock.
From the outset of the album, a distinct tone is set, with the low, foreboding rumblings of the title track that segue nicely into the real opener, ‘Now, Apocalypse’– a brutally slow, soul-rending slog that convinces as the soundtrack to the song’s subject matter.
The following tracks continue the drudge and doom in a manner so painfully slow as to suggest the band might be playing in slow motion. That’s not to say the album suffers from this achingly sedate pace. Moreover, the very deliberate nature of songs like ‘White Temple’only serves to enhance the masterful heaviness supplied by the meticulousness of producer Toshi Kasai; each note hits the listener with as much skull-crushing impact as the last.
There is more to this album than its harsh exterior might suggest, though. The previously mentioned shoegaze and post-rock elements seep through from time to time; standout track ‘Ruins’sees the album’s typically bold sound offset by echoey, dreamlike vocals. They sit a little lower in the mix as to give the impression of more distance between the artist and listener, giving an other-worldly quality to the music.
‘Wolves Within Wolves’, which follows on from ‘Ruins’, also showcases the band’s lighter side. Two minutes in, we hear some soft, chime-like guitars; it’s that kind of lulling post-rock tone that characterises the sound of bands like Mogwai. This break in the weather is short-lived, however, as the band dive back in with what is a more conventional rock sound: very clear, cooly-delivered, purposeful riffs. A stark contrast to the muddy ether we have grown accustomed to; the vocals are almost discernible, even.
The final cut, ‘Destruction Complete’, conveys no truer statement. As the relentless noise and cymbal crashes come to an end, one thing becomes quite apparent: the silence. After the constant bombardment, the cessation offers the listener a a moment to reflect on just how powerful ‘Kōfuku’ is. A clever hard-hitter with a few finer moments interspersed, this debut goes far to create a sonically-challenging but ultimately rewarding listen.
‘Kōfuku’ is out now via Magnetic Eye Records.
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