White Hills - Frying on this Rock Album Review
Experimental, psychedelic New York rockers White Hills return with their latest offering to the scene, Frying on this Rock, an innovative and unique take on the alternative rock genre.
White Hills style themselves as "space rock" and judging from this album it's easy to see why. The combination of pulsating, electrified synth sounds and the crunchy noise of overdriven guitars and punchy drums creates something very spaced-out yet rocky, and in a sense good but in others dubious.
First, the few low points. The second track, Robot Stomp is very aptly named, because it sounds like the march of an army of robots or the soundtrack a factory floor building robots. It's probably the low point of the album; the relentless march of Robot Stomp soon grows old, what appears to have been created in an attempt at being trance-inducing has ended up being quite irritating. Happily, though, the rest of the album is slightly better; the opener Pads of Light is extremely catchy and You Dream You See is good for head-bopping.
All of the songs, though, seem to have the same downfall of being slightly repetitive. This makes it psychedelic, and White Hills have stated that this is the idea that they were going for, so in this sense the repetitiveness makes sense. However, White Hills also state that their style of music needs to reflect the 'limitless-feeling' of space and the repetitiveness of the music denies that ability. It feels controlled and regulated; pulsing, standard time signatures and repeated riffs give the feeling of order, rather than freedom.
Now, the good points. It's a good fusion of rock and psychedelic-ness, excellent use of synths and electronic sounds alongside the more rocky aspects of the music is done extremely well and they work together better than one might initially expect. It doesn't fuse them in as obvious a way as, for example, mainstream musicians Enter Shikari, but has a much more subtle nuance to it. It's quite pleasant to listen to in some places.
Vocally, it could remind one of rockers Thrice, who manage to sound slightly mournful and yet tuneful at the same time. The lead vocals hold the tune and yet manage to sound slightly monotone at the same time but in the context of the rest of the sounds this is good and the way in which the vocals echo does manage to give the album a sense of 'open space'. This, as mentioned before, is the sound that White Hills seem to be going for. The sense of open face is especially pronounced on 8-minute track Song of Everything.
Overall, an interesting listen more than anything else. It has some very good points and White Hills are clearly talented; they've thought about what they want to sound like and then created it. To improve, they need slightly more variety and less repetitiveness.
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