"Southern Darkness"

By Earthdog

If there is one band that perfectly sums up Southern Stoner Metal/Rock, it has to be King Giant from Arlington, Virginia. They have the grooves of other highly influential so-called Stoner Metal (I still hate that tag) like Clutch and Down but they combine that with the early Punk Metal crossover sounds of C.O.C and then throw into the melting pot a hefty dose of blues and old fashioned 70's Southern Rock in the Skynyrd/Black Oak Arkansas tradition. The vocals add yet another dimension. The voice of Dave Hammerly adds some serious grit and with all due respect to the former vocalist, Bob Dotolo (R.I.P), Dave is the perfect man for the job. The sound of King Giant sits right on the outer edges of Doom Metal but the real meat and potatoes is in the groovy, bluesy groove ridden riffs and southern rock tinged melodies.

Opening track "Solace" beats you over the head with a killer heavy riff, pounding drums and whiskey drenched vocals. While the music is still in the sludgy tradition, there is a strong element of Southern Rock that is right below the surface so it's not driving the music but it is giving them the southern-fried metal sound. So good is "Southern Darkness" is there is no stand-out tracks because they are all good, I tried picking a favorite but soon gave up when I realized that its all killer and no filler. Only time they stray from their formula is on "13 to 1" where the music is almost upbeat and dare I say up-lifting. Hell, the song even features a banjo... how many metal bands can do that and get away with it? The only change of vibe is their cover of Skynyrd's "Needle and the Spoon", where they go as close as possible to losing the original vibe of the song with their sheer, pounding heaviness almost burying the feel of the original.

There is Country And Western meets Metal in songs like "Mississippi River"... imagine Johnny Cash fronting a Metal band and you get the idea. While there is a certain level of predictability in songs like "Burning Regrets", "Lady Whiskey" and "Hollow", it's their quality of musicianship and beer-drinking party vibe (not that it's that happy but i'ts fun all the same) that carries the album through and makes it work for the entire 51 minutes. You could say you have it heard it all before but I doubt if you would have heard it played with this level of passion and integrity. It also crosses over various genres and sounds, anyone from fans of Godsmack to Eyehategod and everything in-between should get something out of this great album. I can't say much more about "Southern Darkness" except it's one of the best Southern Stoner Metal albums ever made and it really couldn't have been made anywhere else. This breathes the pure Southern air in its grooves and you can literally taste the Jack Daniels or Jim Beam (depending on your personal taste) while spinning this disc. 9/10