Low Flying Hawks are an interesting musical project. The two primary members of the band – who go by the semi-anonymous monikers of AAL and EHA (each credited with guitars and vocals) – have teamed up with Trevor Dunn (Fantomas, Mr. Bungle, Melvins) on bass and the mighty Dale Crover (Melvins) on skins for their second full length album, Genkaku.
To make it even more of a Melvins meetup, King Buzzo injects vocals on two tracks. With all the Melvins name-dropping, you might expect this to sound like a Melvins record, and there are elements reminiscent of their classic weirdness. Overall though, Genkaku has a sound entirely of its own. Melvins (we won’t say it again, promise).
Make no mistake though, this is a doom album. AAL and EHA utilize clean, yet thick guitar tones and often rely on big droning riffs but it’s the variation from the typical doom album that makes Genkaku so interesting. Songs often begin with the aforementioned fat riffs, but there’s a good amount of post-metal and even a sprinkling of nu-metal influence in the mix as well. Some of the clean vocals and melodies even call to mind the wave of early-2000s nu-metal bands that rose to popularity. This is by no means a slight! Such a vocal style adds a bleak, longing element to the mix of fuzz and drawn out atmospheric soundscapes that AAL and EHA have crafted.
Variety is indeed the name of the game here. Buzzo’s signature vocals on “Smile” add the perfect touch of weird to make the track wonderfully unique while the second half of “Twilight” transforms into an odd crunchy blues dirge, with raspy whiskey-soaked singing over the top.
Doom is the core, but there’s a bit of everything here….and it’s overwhelming.
The lyrics are bleak and seem fairly personal and they fit the overall sound of Genkaku very well. This is the soundtrack to chronic depression, during a week of drizzling rain, but the goofier moments keep it from dwelling in the depths for too long. Considering they have the help of such legendary artists, it seems as if Low Flying Hawks have been—well—flying below the radar. It wouldn’t surprise us if that changes once people get a load of Genkaku! 8/10