November 20, 2023
HOWLING GIANT is a prolific Progressive/Stoner Metal outfit based in Nashville, Tennessee. Although they have just released their second full-length album, “Glass Future” via Magnetic Eye Records on October 27, 2023, they have four EPs, one split (with SERGEANT THUNDERHOOF), and two cover singles (Blue Oyster Cult - “Godzilla”; AC/DC - “Shoot to Thrill”). And these smaller releases are in no way insignificant, each is another milestone in the band’s impressive trajectory.
Traditional Stoner Metal is about drugs, cars, women, and a wide assortment of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi themes. Some, like CLUTCH, touch on all of the above, some pick their niche and dive deep. HOWLING GIANT is all about sci-fi with an occasional offshoot into fantasy. Listening to a HOWLING GIANT album is like reading a Cixion Liu novel but without the math and in English instead of Chinese.
The distinctive features of this once trio, and now foursome (addition of keyboards in 2020), can be summarized in one word: harmony. That’s harmony in their clean vocals coming from not one or two, but three of the members. It’s like disembodied voices of THREE DOG NIGHT decided they had enough of the hippie shit, sloughed off the afterlife, and caught a Rocket 88 to Tennessee where they were resurrected in a Prog/Stoner Metal band. But it’s not just the vocals, it’s the preternatural synchronization of Baltes (bass) and Polzine (guitar) set against the crazed pacing of Wheeler (drums), and layered above, below, and through with Bolton’s keyboard work. If you told me there was a typo in all the band’s bio info and they are actually based in Sweden, I wouldn’t blink. That would make perfect sense.
So what about “Glass Future”? There’s a solid mix of everything here from heavy riffage—“Hawk in a Hurricane” and “Juggernaut”; to multi-movement Prog-infused compositions—uhm, tracks 1- 10; to bluesy Doom inflections, “Aluminium Crown” and “There’s Time Now.” There are even cowbells. Score! Thematically, their lyrical content immerses listeners into PKD-meets-Lovecraft narrative with rogue spaceships, cities beneath the ocean, and multi-dimensional portals. For standout tracks, I’ll go with “Hawk in a Hurricane,” “Glass Future,” “Tempest and the Liars Gateway,” and “Juggernaut.”
Clearly, I am an unapologetic HOWLING GIANT fan, but I didn’t become one by accident. Album by album, track by track, this band has earned their growing fanbase. “Glass Future” is solid second full-length for HOWLING GIANT, but if you are new to the band, you’re going to want to work through their entire catalogue so just traipse over to Bandcamp and loosen up your wallet. Worth the investment.
9 / 10
"Glass Future" Track-listing:
2. Siren Song
3. Aluminium Crown
4. Hawk in a Hurricane
5. First Blood of Melchor
6. Glass Future
7. Tempest, and the Liar's Gateway
8. Sunken City
10. There's Time Now
Howling Giant Lineup:
Sebastian Baltes – Bass, vocals
Zach Wheeler – Drums, vocals
Tom Polzine – Guitar, vocals
Marshall Bolton – Keyboards