Shit, some bands really don’t have any respect for reviewers!!! They don’t make it easy for us at all. We want something we can categorise, some easy reference points to pick up on so we don’t have to use or brains too much and can trot out any number of journalistic clichés, submit our reviews then go down the pub. After listening to Chickenhawk the pub is the last place you’ll want to go as you’ll be curled up in the corner of a dimly lit room, weeping lightly and gibbering incoherently!!!
When a band claim influences such as Tim Burton approved film scorer Danny Elfman, Buckethead, The Melvins and Shellac you know this isn’t going to be an easy ride but this long awaited debut album is certainly worth the wait and the effort, and if the above bands and stuff like The Jesus Lizard, Harvey Milk and Slayer are your bag then take a seat.
Fifteen seconds into first track “Dude-a-Tron” and I’m staring at the CD player thinking “what the fuck” as a piece of disco synth electronica with tortured hardcore vocals rolls from the speakers. Thankfully this is just Chickenhawk fucking with us before the album explodes into a brutal melting pot of hardcore, sludge and doom all bound up with an ugly avant garde ribbon. This is some seriously heavy shit, especially impressive as it was recorded as a three piece with drummer Matthew assuming vocals duties (the line-up has now expanded with the addition of Paul Astick on guitar and vocals). Each song twists and turns blending the jarring lurch of Shellac with the relentless heaviness of the Melvins. Occasionally a nod to prime Sabbath will snake out of the mire only to be shot down by some King Crimson inspired tomfoolery. The vocals spin from a painful hardcore shriek to some moments of almost poppy melody. With the insane musical melange that’s unfolding through the course of this album it would be easy for the band to head fully up their own arses and get lodged somewhere around their colon but fortunately they manage to hold it back and keep the song writing suitably concise. My only criticism here would be that each song does tend to follow a fairly similar trajectory making it hard to pick out album highlights and sustain the attention to the end…maybe I’m just getting old!!!
It’s interesting to note that in American slang a Chickenhawk is a politician or beaurocrat who openly supports military action while never having served in a war themselves…specifically if they avoided the military while of draft age. Chickenhawk certainly aren’t cowards!!! If music was a war they’d be right at the front line covered in pig’s blood, screaming bloody murder and armed with any kitchen implement they can find!!!
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall