While Henge may well be a new name to many stoner/doom fans, they come with a sound that should be comfortingly familiar to anyone with experience in the genre. Big, downtuned guitars are a staple, as are hypnotically repetitive riffs, and the whole package comes with an ominous, occult atmosphere that brings to mind English doom masters Electric Wizard.
With this in mind, it wouldn’t be so far fetched to label some of what Henge do as somewhat derivative in a genre that is saturated with a huge number of very similar bands, playing very similar music. However, whilst it would be hard to say Henge have carved out their own niche in terms of originality, their Self-Titled release does evoke a lot of the things that initially made me fall in love with some of the best stoner/doom bands out there. It captures Sleep’s misanthropic vocals, treading a perfect line between melodic singing and hardcore-influenced screams, without ever fully committing to either, alongside Electric Wizard’s crushing, hypnotic sense of impending doom, which is showcased best on closing tracks Wet Grave and King. Add Monster Magnet’s psychedelic, no-fucks-given attitude, demonstrated perfectly on opener TD, and you might have a good idea of what to expect from the album. Meanwhile, Time Outside is instantly reminiscent of Kyuss and the host of ‘desert rock’ bands associated with them, with a trancelike, meditative flow that is hindered slightly by careless transitions between ‘clean’ and ‘heavy’, but remains captivating nonetheless, whilst Metal Petal features riffs big enough to hark back to Corrosion of Conformity’s seminal Albatross.
All of this sounds like high praise for Henge, and indeed this release demonstrates that the band are capable songwriters with the ability to produce great, spaced-out, psychedelic stoner/doom. However, the only way I can find to describe their music is through referencing the great bands that, no doubt, influenced them, and with this in mind, I wonder if this album has enough of a cohesive identity to mark Henge out from the crowd and really make a name for them. Henge are definitely very promising, and this album makes for a really enjoyable listen, but I wonder if they’ve really found a sound to call their own yet.
Scribed by: Tal Fineman