Review: Howling Giant ‘Alteration’ EP

Nashville’s Howling Giant, like pretty much every professional, touring band on planet Earth have had the proverbial rug pulled out from under their feet due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. So, what’s a touring band who normally find themselves on the road playing shows to do with their downtime? I mean, the creativity has to go somewhere. One cannot just turn that off. So, they’ve used their downtime to release a four-song EP of instrumental jams, the band conceived on the spot as they were streaming ‘live’ shows. Cool idea for sure, and a treat for their fans.

Howling Giant 'Alteration'

Understudy kicks things off with a grimy, Southern-style riff offered up by guitarist Tom Polzine., reminiscent of COC, or Down, if not stylistically, than in tonality, which is an obvious comparison, considering the band is from the South. However, such comparisons are quickly rendered moot, as the synths kick in and the band begins to descend in a proggy-spacey break-down, followed by another heavy, walking riff, before setting off to space as they interweave between riffage, and more spacey stylings, as the song slowly fades out.

Luring Alluring Rings begins the exact opposite of its predecessor, as an Panopticon-era ISIS guitar-twinkling and synth slow-build brings us to the main body of the song. Definitely ‘mid-tempo’ and again I can’t help but think of ISIS, Pelican, or Crack The Skye-era Mastodon, especially once things get moving some, but that’s the key word, some. The track feels like it’s building towards something, as it seems to find itself on a loop, before the distortion pedal is hit, and some riffage commences. However, said build never really comes, the band rides this for a few bars before weaving back into where we started.

Clearly these guys can play and have a firm grasp in what they want to achieve with their sound…

Enemy Of My Anemone gets things rolling at a slightly brisker pace. This song has more of a Kylesa (remember them?) feel to it. Nice tempo, nice lead work and nice rhythm work between bassist Sebastian Baltes and drummer Zach Wheeler. The band are really moving on this track. Nice flow for sure, great riffs and lead work from Polzine. This track definitely gets the listener’s attention. The build-up-to-break-down riff at the end of the song is particularly crushing and brings things to a close nicely.

Farmer Maggot’s Crop  (featuring Mike T. Kerr) is back to the slower, mellower intro. The song slowly builds, some nice synth work provided by Marshall Bolton as Polzine trades leads with noted, nomadic country blues/bluegrass musician Mike T. Kerr is a nice touch. The song swings nicely towards its conclusion as Baltes walks the song to a close.

A nice pandemic-wrought instrumental release. Clearly these guys can play and have a firm grasp in what they want to achieve with their sound. I like the idea of spontaneous instrumental jams being released like this as it’s a nice stop-gap EP while we await their next full length.

Label: Independent
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams