Lost in the Shimmering “Hinterlands” with Jakethehawk (Album Premiere + Track-by-Track)
Dream-doom or doomgaze, or whatever subgenre amalgam you want to come up with, it simply doesn't matter: sometimes two or three seemingly divergent threads in heavy music intersect into such an explosion of rainbows and horns that you can't contain the giddy, excitable surge rushing from your brain right to your heart (or soul, if you have one). Don't get me wrong, extra-fuzzy desert-dwelling psych-rock is nothing new, but damnit, if Pittsburgh-based Jakethehawk's brand of sending us on rainy-eyed and rainy-skied night drives down memory lane didn't cut deep, I wouldn't be here writing about it.
In short, then, the band's latest effort Hinterlands both tenderly and heavily delivers that "ethereal" experience that much noisier acts seek and fail to deliver -- hear for yourself with a full stream of Hinterlands prior to tomorrow's release.
Caught off guard by Hinterlands' level of cinema and pantomime, Jakethehawk managed to lean me back in my chair and roll my eyes into the back of my head -- album opener "Counting" sets the tone with monster clean-sung choruses that flow from the gut, not just the cortex. Soaring along with frontman and guitarist John Huxley's atmospheric howling and riffage serves to re-solidify the band's angle on introducing the tenets of psych-rock into the heavier spaces we are all already accustomed to. I find that this music is less about that "heavy metal impulse" that we often describe, but I bet my life that it will take most people right to the core of why they appreciate metal in the first place.
Hinterlands is all atmosphere, all power, and all emotion at once -- it is a lot at once, if you were to level a criticism, but in my mind, "maximum" can be the only relevant philosophy when it comes to opening the mind's ear.
Check out a track-by-track rundown by Huxley below while you're spinning up this body-warming album. Enjoy, and stay warm out there.
Counting: We wanted to juxtapose the heavy riffs in this song with dream-pop inspired cleaner chords and vocals. Also the non-traditional slide guitar playing on here seemed to give the album an identity. Lyrically, this song is really about finding peace... or trying to. The "Father" referenced here isn't really my Dad so much as it is the societal ethos that shaped us all. I think a lot of people experience cognitive dissonance about things we learned, or even used to be, that were objectively wrong or bad... but also not going so far as to hate yourself entirely. The song is about finding peace with a world that is changing and with one's own changes through time.
Ochre & Umber: This song is a blast... we wrote it pretty self-indulgently... it has fun riffs, fun leads, acoustic guitars, and it in a lot of ways exemplifies what we are as a live band. Lyrically, I was thinking about what people report from having near death experiences... peace, serenity, that sort of thing. I could not be less religious and I don't believe in any sort of afterlife, but I think it is a potent metaphor for turning the corner, growing, changing... but also not being able to go back to how things were. The album title "Hinterlands" is sort of a reference to this idea as well.
Interzone Mantra: Justin and I stumbled onto this riff almost by accident while we were screwing around one day and it quickly developed into the "doomiest" track we have ever done. There are some really fun textures in the middle that we accomplished using Fender Rhodes, Ring Mod, and the expansive knowledge of our producer Matt Very. Lyrically the song is just about humanity being alone and helpless in a cold, bleak, uncaring world. I don't mean that in a depressive way though... it is more written in awe of that... the power of the universe, of nature. I suppose in that sense it is a sort of spiritual song.
Still Life: This might be an oddball track for some, but I'm really happy we were able to include it on this release. The "coastal" sounding clean guitars on the verses are beautiful and the shrill, icy melody line at the very end is one of my favorite parts on this album. Lyrically the song really just says what it says.
Uncanny Valley: What starts as a "desert rocker" quickly veers off the rails with some really fun guitar textures and vocal harmonies. Justin's bass playing is like a dumptruck full of lead comin' down the road with no brakes... it just feels so forceful and unstoppable. The lyrics are, again, about journeying through an afterlife... this time imagined as an endless desert of colorless sand. This is another metaphor for the whole idea of things changing, the world changing, you changing and regardless of what happens, nothing is ever really going to be the same. It is a freeing feeling, but also a bit sad. Like going back to your hometown, sure its there but it'll never REALLY be the same as it was... it is in a way... kind of an uncanny valley effect... something just feels off.
June: The heavy riffs, the slide tones, the electric piano and acoustic guitars, the sub octave on the bass in the second verse... I think we are in agreement this track is really representative of everything we have to offer from both a sonic perspective and a songwriting perspective. Josh's contributions to this song knock it out of the park in my opinion and Jordan has some incredibly cool drum moments in the ending section. This song is a criticism of toxic masculinity and isn't about my life so much as about the cultural dynamic at large. I feel the urge to double down here that the "father" referenced is a metaphor.
Hinterlands releases February 19th, 2021 via Ripple Music.