THE HIDDEN HAND- The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote (Southern Lord)
Wino. The most powerful name in doom metal, back to conquer stoners, schizophrenics, and riff-worshipers alike. Scott "Wino" Weinrich's repertoire of incredible bands he's been a part (THE OBSESSED, SPIRIT CARAVAN, and SAINT VITUS specifically) includes his latest project THE HIDDEN HAND, who unfortunately at the time of this writing have since disbanded. The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote
is the band's third full-length, along with a couple EPs that altogether amounts for a nice discography for only being together five years. THE HIDDEN HAND certainly aren't my favorite Wino-related band, but anything with his name on it means that I will check it out no questions asked. A themed album based around the fictitious character Whiskey Foote and set in early America, The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote
from the outside seem primed to be a massive Americana-style doom epic, like ACROSS TUNDRAS with more folk and even more riffs. Not the case. The album generally doesn't give off that kind of dusty, desolate, wandering-across-the-open-plains feel that I was expecting and hoping for, so that's my fault for judging the album based on my preconceived notions. It took me many listens to really begin appreciating it for what it was; a solid collection of hard rockin' tunes. Now admittedly there is still no doubt that Wino has written better riffs and better songs in the past, and while I'm not saying the river of creativity has dried up, it seems about that time. The dude has been cranking them out like he was Iommi himself for so damn long, its about time he started to run out of ideas. The presence of meandering atonal doom riffs sometimes take the place of the fluid spacy melodies and jagged crunch of the riffage that made bands like SPIRIT CARAVAN so absolutely stunning. There are plenty of riffs and hooks to be sure, but I just wish there were a little more. Anyhow Wino's trademark vocals are still present, and the rhythm section rocks in that perfect old school way. The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote
is a grower, and while it could have been done better, it's still an enjoyable listen.
"Purple Neon Dream" starts the album much in the way that I envisioned, which further duped me because the rest of the record sounds almost nothing like it. The hazy mellow intro line gives way to an ethereal sounding vocal melody, but in the end the song feels maddeningly underdeveloped and way too brief. If they had done more songs like this and actually stretched them into fully realized compositions this record would be a blinder. "Dark Horizons" does retain a similar vibe, that kind of midnight vagabond feel that I really enjoy. They bust out the real riffs though on songs like the "The Lesson" and the title track, along with some smokin' harmonica on "Lightning Hill" and the bluesy "Slow Rain." The drums have a great crisp sound to them, especially the cymbals, and the bass is brought out well during the solos.
Now that THE HIDDEN HAND is no longer, watch out for Wino's new project with members of NEUROSIS and SLEEP/OM called "SHRINEBUILDER."