REVIEW: "Swamp Hawk" By Swamp Hawk (Stoner Rock)
Stoner Rock, Doom Metal/Independent/Released August 24th 2018
Formed by members of notable Lexington, Kentucky bands The Ford Theater Reunion and Floraburn, Swamp Hawk is a stoner rock/doom metal quartet formed in 2016. After several shows building a strong local following, the band recorded their self titled debut at Lexington’s Sneak Attack Studios and released the record on August 24th .
Swamp Hawk are lovers of all things fuzzy. And their record boasts a diverse array of tracks exploring the genres of doom, stoner, and southern rock. Wasting no time grabbing the listener’s attention, the album starts with the crushingly heavy “Ice Beast”. A stoner doom monster built around a lurking riff that personifies the mythic creature described in its lyrics. Despite the heavy doom introduction, this style doesn’t reemerge until album closer “Casket Heaver”. An emotive track that opens with acoustic guitar and a softer vocal delivery before building into thick electric guitars. The acoustic and electric instrumentation trade off in each section building towards the song’s end with an atmospheric solo over the heavy rhythm to close out the track.
Sandwiched between the album’s doomy buns are the more rock-focused tracks where Swamp Hawk blend their southern, blues, and punk influences. A favorite among these songs is “Widows, Witches, & Woe”. A track with a strong desert-rock vibe built around a bluesy, southern-bred swing riff. The drawl of guitarist Josh Flowers’ vocal delivery adds to the southern feel and the controlled noise of the lead solos and twin harmonies echo Queens Of The Stone Age.
“Parachute Mines” leans more on the punk side with its driving tempo and guitarist Joe Harbison’s high energy vocals. The band packs a lot under three minutes with the song’s slick guitar leads, the dirty blues of the breakdown, and the fun hook. “Diamondhead” brings in a touch of prog with its alternating time signatures and tapping lead guitar hook. The switches from 3/4 to 4/4 time and various riffs make for a dynamic song that feels complete and layered despite being a hair over two minutes.
Swamp Hawk is an ear perking debut that covers a lot of sonic ground in its 30 minute length. From doom’s crushing weight to southern rock soul to forlorn acoustics. Rock & metal fans both can find something to like. And for a first impression, Swamp Hawk display a great confidence in their craft and what they want to accomplish musically.