It’s a damn shame we weren’t aware of this record sooner, because in all seriousness, it probably would have been way high up on our top 25 list at the end of 2010. But anyhow, with this release, HEAVY TIMES continue to serve up their unpredictable take on punk music, but things are a little different this time around.
If you’re familiar with Heavy Times by this point, you might already know what we’re talking about. These Chicago bros usually stick to the crumby, lo-fi cassette tape quality fuzz, but the songs on this album are almost entirely free of all that noisy nonsense. Not that they sound like a completely new band or anything drastic like that, but it’s probably worth knowing before just diving right into it – which is totally okay too. In that sense, this makes the music more distinctive than past HT releases – in other words, you might not guess it’s Heavy Times right off the bat, but listen carefully and in no time you will figure out that this is indeed Heavy Times.
The intensity and the anger are both still present, and you can feel the discontent in the music just as easily as you could with other releases. All ten songs included take a short but straight-to-the-point structure, which is certainly a quality that you should be used to by now with Heavy Times. They rock hard without any hesitation whatsoever, and forget about being timid or vague, because these boys lay it all out on the table right from square one.
Things start off as energetic as possible with “Welcome to the Graveyard”. That fiery, opening guitar lick shimmies and becomes like the theme to this record, because after it sinks in, that’s all you’re going to want to hear – it’s that point of recognition when you know of all the greatness to follow, like storming down the runway into all the destruction and madness that comes afterward. “Poison Ivy” takes a step back on the intensity, but one thing that stands out in this track is the vocals. Before hearing any of the Heavy Times songs from “Dead”, you could barely understand the lyrics (excluding that 7″). This might just be the first time you realize you can actually understand what’s being said, which can be exciting. Don’t miss the unexpected music video for this song below, either.
Now that you’ve caught your breath, “Hunted Passenger” comes in and totally fucks that up. But there’s really no fucking around in these parts anyway – just serious rocking. Razor sharp guitar licks break this song up, and they cut like the sharpest of knives while Bo Hansen wails with fright and anger until the very last note. Up next is “Keeper Vibes”, which comes off more as a heavy pop song than anything. The seamless and sharp lead guitar work flows with everything else, and when it’s on its own at the end you can’t help but crack a huge smile as you get lost in the abrasive bliss.
“Coffin Dirge” is just what it says – no lying here. The repeated pounding drums complement the singeing guitars, and Hansen howls in anguish for a near three minutes. This might be the first time you associate their music with weed, but probably not. “Bad Fun” comes next, and it only takes about a minute and thirty seconds to totally beat your face in, which paves way for perhaps the most stunning track from this band to date. “Drug Lake” is like the culminating point of all the qualities from “Dead” in their greatest and most destructive form. Crashing drums, spiny psyched-out licks, harsh feedback noise, heavy riffage and wall-like guitars all hang over your head as this song knocks you straight to the floor and dares you to make the next move. Don’t try to get back up either because this one will probably just end up on repeat as you constantly sway along with the devastating, apocalyptic insanity.
“Mathwitch” and “Ultra Shapes” both are somewhat similar, being that they both still have that relentless energy paired with more blazing guitar licks, which eventually gives way to “Ghost Cave”. This final track has a slightly darkened vibe which is a little different from anything else on “Dead”. It almost has a wooded feel (which definitely spawns from the mentioning of caves and “following a ghost into the woods”) – which helps make sense of that “futuristic woods punk” note on their Facebook page. Did anybody else find that hilarious? I laughed out loud when I first saw it. I still want to know exactly what that means.
In the end, this is pretty much a head-spinning brain-burner of angry punk anthems smothered with badass guitars and played at break neck speeds. “Dead” is completely relentless from start to finish, coming through with enough urgency and ecstatic energy that a ton of other bands could definitely learn a thing or two from. And it all happens so fast you won’t know what hit ya, but you’ll definitely know which album you want to hear again…
“Poison Ivy” music video
Welcome to the Graveyard –
Poison Ivy –
Keeper Vibes –
Drug Lake –
My Rating: 9/10
Genre/ Tags: Punk, Noise Rock, Psychedelic, Garage Rock
1.) Welcome to the Graveyard
2.) Poison Ivy
3.) Hunted Passenger
4.) Keeper Vibes
5.) Coffin Dirge
6.) Bad Fun
7.) Drug Lake
9.) Ultra Shapes
10.) Ghost Cave
BUY “Dead” directly from Midheaven – limited to 200 on RED vinyl !
Heavy Times on Myspace
Heavy Times – Sick Listens CS previously posted on the Drone
Heavy Times – No Plans 7″ previously posted on the Drone
Find Heavy Times on our Top 30 7″ list of 2010
You can DOWNLOAD “Dead” in its entirety right here
Also DOWNLOAD “Sick Listens” while you’re at it