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Pist “Hailz” a New Sound on New Album

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Give the people what they want, right? For the better part of the last 20 years, that’s been a whole hell of a lot of stoner, sludge, and doom metal. A veritable cottage industry of blogs, PR companies, and labels have sprung up to feed the need, and despite metal’s inherently cyclical nature, there’s been no sign of a recession in the demand for low and slow. APF Records, based out of Manchester, is a newer independent label dedicated to delivering the goods of the genre, specifically the British variety. One of the newest additions to APF’s roster is Pist, local boys making good on influences ranging from fellow countrymen like Orange Goblin and Cathedral to more unexpected sources. Their second full-length album Hailz finds the band moving beyond the standard biker riffs of debut Rhythm and Booze into a genre-bending space not unlike the one occupied by Skeletonwitch and Goatwhore. Listen to an exclusive stream of the new album below.

Opening with a bendy, weight-of-the-world riff that would make Kirk Windstein cry, “Ex-Nihilo” deftly sets the tone with a grooving verse and singer Dave Rowlands’ gruff, Southern-fried (by way of Northern England) delivery, only to break character and dive right into a tremolo-picked gallop accompanied by bassist Mike Collins’ black metal rasp. In lesser hands, a hard turn like that could easily lose some listeners. And no doubt there are stoner and doom purists out there that will turn their noses up at bands making choices outside the denim-and-weed sphere. But Pist double down on spreading their leathery black wings on the next track “Wreck,” with the aforementioned Skeletonwitch and even some Nachtmystium textures permeating the sound palette. Anchored by the main sludgy riff, guitarist John Nicholson explores black and post-metal realms without going too far down the rabbit hole; the rest of Pist keeps the song structure fully intact until its final coda.

“Mind Rotter” again finds the band walking a razor’s edge between straightforward barn-burner stoner metal and a more blended genre offering, to the point where the verses even alternate between styles. This is where production can make or break a song’s efficacy, so recording with Chris Fielding (Conan) was the best decision Pist could have made. Fielding has been behind the boards for everyone from The Wounded Kings to Napalm Death — as well as all Pist’s previous releases — so not only does he know what the band wants, he’s naturally attuned to working with various approaches. Hailz maintains a consistent tone that allows for experimentation but doesn’t get mired in it: “Fools Gave Chase” serves as the album’s centerpiece, loading up on big hooks while also balancing them against a quiet middle passage complete with David Gilmour-esque soloing.

“If I Was You…” is the band’s most stark departure, where groove plays a minimal role to dominant blast beats and relentless riffing. Aside from a somewhat catchy chorus, it would sound right at home in Skeletonwitch’s early four-piece incarnation. “Strangle the Sun” brings Hailz back around to the big, bouncy stoner rock arena sound, complete with guest backing vocals from Jack Townley and Peter Holland of London doom merchants Elephant Tree. “Skin Your God” finishes the album on a high-energy note, with Collins and Nicholson going note-for-note most of the song, outside of Nicholson’s most impressive solo work on the album.

Stoner doom typically has a “fun” connotation inherent to the genre, at least when compared to its black and death metal counterparts. While putting them all together may not work for some, Pist is certainly doing it as well as anyone else; besides that, they’re trying something new and making bold choices. Hails, indeed.

From vocalist David Rowlands:

“There’s been a fair old wait for this record but we didn’t want to throw any new music out for the sake of it, we wanted something that would reintroduce us and make a bold statement! I feel we have done this with Hailz. The record was conceived and influenced by some personal tragedies and also reflects on modern day life and society. The record is heavy and punishing but also delivers some spaced out psychedelic bits. I think song writing-wise we’ve moved up a few gears and this record showcases somewhat of a change in direction for the band. The record is influenced by our wide spectrum of musical tastes and each member has contributed to these songs, it really is a group effort and for me it’s a statement of intent. We can’t wait to get this record out and give everyone’s ears a good battering! Hailz!!”

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