Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Man's Gin: Rebellion Hymns (2013)

Doggamn, Don’t Let It Go

Any time you read the words “dark Americana” on this blog, you can blame Man’s Gin. Sure, I’ve always liked acoustic-electric material on the order of Alice in Chains Unplugged going back to my teenage years, but Smiling Dogs is the album that sent me down this rabbit hole. It’s the reason I listen to things like Steve Von Till, Dax Riggs, and Wovenhand nearly as much as I listen to Suffocation, Darkthrone, and Evoken.

Rebellion Hymns is the long-awaited follow-up to Smiling Dogs, and it is well worth the wait. Not only does it continue in the dark rock/country/folk of its predecessor, it builds on it.

Dogs sounded as if it was written to be performed with nothing more than a man and his acoustic guitar if needed, but Hymns more fully incorporates and expands the rest of the band. In particular, the cello makes its presence well-known throughout the record. “Off the Coast of Sicily” is a cello-driven song. Even the vocal talent has expanded, with added backing vocals (including Jarboe and Phil McSorley), and Erik Wunder himself now screams where appropriate. Also: accordion. Fans of 16 Horsepower know how awesome that instrument can be, and it certainly is no different here.

That expanded sonic palette results in more varied songwriting. Opener “Inspiration,” “Varicose,” and “Deer Head & The Rain” are exactly what I expected of Man’s Gin songs: folk-rock with Cobalt-like, droning riffs (minus the black metal of course). Elsewhere, you might hear something like the better parts of The Mountain Goats (the guitar in “Off the Coast of Sicily”), Nick Cave (“Old House (Bark at the Moonwalk)”), Baroness (“Sirens”), or a bit of CCR and Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Never Do the Neon Lights”).

Whatever strife and struggle befell the making of this record, it paid off. The joke hidden track (a butchering of “Let It Be”) is the only flaw, but I’m going to ignore that.

The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars

Profound Lore

1 comment: