King Howl

Sure, the blues have permeated the membrane of global culture, seeping its way from America […]
July 11, 2023
King Howl - Homecoming album cover

Sure, the blues have permeated the membrane of global culture, seeping its way from America to the rest of the world. It is, after all, the foundation of rock and roll, which means- in some ways- it's the distant great-great-great grandfather of all metal, no matter how extreme. While it's hard to find that presence in a lot of modern day music, there's no denying the struggle is universal.  And that's what blues is all about: the struggle.  Sardinian rockers KING HOWL specialize in the kind of upbeat, bar blues that more successful bands like THE HIVES have made their signature moves.  After performing for well over a decade, KING HOWL have released their third full length "Homecoming" on Electric Valley Records, bringing their Italian flare on the blues to a listening component near you.  It's no nonsense rock and roll, really, with touches of stoner, classic rock and psychedelia, but make no mistake: the blues does all the heavy lifting on this slab of sonic histrionics.

It's a deceptive album.  While this type of straight up, old school rock and roll isn't my thing, it does have the staying power that's a testament to the appeal of 12-bar blues. KING HOWL does a fairly good job of keeping these eleven songs varied enough to keep it interesting.  Opener "The Rooster" starts off with a rousing, rolling tromp through blues history, with a pumping rhythm and a crunchy, dirty-sounding harmonica from singer Diego Pani.  Pani's vocals are confident and strong, a commanding presence to front a workhorse-like band, even if his Italian accent can be truly heavy at times.  "From the Cradle" features some slide-guitar from Marco Antagonista over a repeated melodic lead, sounding like the WHITE STRIPES interpreted by four alpha-males from Italy. Third song "The Train" has a grunge-era riff and the kind of rough, through-a-phone-booth like vocals that you hear on all of these retro-blues bands' records.  It also has some sections that evoke BLACK SABBATH, and at one point PEARL JAM.

KING HOWL does a lot of this: they sound like bands, as opposed to being inspired by bands. There's potential in the song-writing, but the production makes it sound as if KING HOWL is trying to write songs from the "sounds like-" school of rock and roll.  At times it "sounds like" Jack White or the Strokes or Jimi Hendrix and for a bar it will be a Blind Melon vocal with a chorus that sounds like the Allman Brothers.  And this is much different than inspired by.  Inspiration carries itself through a whole album, and a lot of that weighs on the production and the sound engineering. In this case, each song sounded like it was mixed by a different person- the album lacks a sonic cohesiveness that can give the listener something to grab onto.  In some ways, good production gives you the ability to say a band is 'inspired by' rather than a band 'sounds like'.  You can dig the mixing on the last Mastodon record, for instance,  but you aren't going to set out to write a song that 'sounds like' "Teardrinker".

Case in point: "John Henry Days." The psychedelic chorus sounds like  BLIND fucking MELON, for god's sake. That being said, the pacing is good, the layering effective, and it ends on a big, phat bang before revisiting the main psychedelic theme. (But still. Blind Melon?) Even "Motorsound," one of the stronger songs on the album, starts off with a riff that made me have panic attacks, as it reminded me of being at one of those awful beach bars back in the early '90s and hearing JESUS JONES blaring over the speakers. "Tempted" picks up the pace, with fast, punky, snotty singing, and a cool groove once the second and third guitar come before crashing into a nasty, blues-based slide guitar lick. The "I was made by the devil" chorus could have been ripped from a JACK WHITE album. There's a punk rock confidence to it, however,  that's really compelling, including some slick vocals over the bridge. "Jupiter'' starts off sounding like a version "Fever," but then KING HOWL gets all sludgy and stoner with a Hendrixian riff and then some straight up rock.  It also features some pretty blatant attempts at singing like Robert Plant.  "The Great Blue Heron" is one of two songs that feature keyboards. In the chorus you get these melodic echoes of THE STROKES and now I can't even.  I'm done.

Objectively, it's not a bad album. There's a lot of creative, exciting stuff happening on the record, and KING HOWL understands the assignment.  Their job is to stand on the shoulders of the blues giants and filter this through their own unique Italian rock and roll centrifuge.  I'm sure, in the right environment, hearing these songs live with a bunch of rockers in Sardinia would be a great experience.  However, the album too often struggles to find out who it wants to be, and even the attempts to 'sound like' fall short in their efficiency. If you want some rock and roll that's deeply blues based, stick with LED ZEPPELIN.  Otherwise, you may as well blow the dust off your Blind Melon CD case.

4 / 10

Nothing special








When clicked, this video is loaded from YouTube servers. See our privacy policy for details.
"Homecoming" Track-listing:

1. The Rooster
2. From the Cradle
3. The Train
4. John Henry Days
5. Motorsound
6. Slowly Coming Down
7. Tempted
8. Jupiter
9. The Great Blue Heron
10. Gimme Shelter
11. Home

King Howl Lineup:

Diego Pani- Vocals, Harmonica
Marco Antagonista- Guitars
Alessandro Cau- Bass
Alessandro Sedda- Drums

linkcrossmenucross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram