Freedom Hawk – Holding On

By Gruesome Greg

Score one for Small Stone. Freedom Hawk’s self-titled debut, which came out a couple years back on MeteorCity, was one of my favourite MC records since they refreshed that imprint in ‘07. (If you look hard enough, you might even find where I gave it an 8.5 on this site in January of last year.) Looks like the Motor City heavy rock label won the bidding war for album number two.

Well, I’m gonna hafta go and revisit their first record, which I quite liked, but Holding On sounds like a big departure for these guys in the early going. Gone is the slow, lazy, southern/stoner vibe, replaced by uptempo tunes and high-pitched, nasal, Ozzy-wannabe singing. The first two cuts on this one wouldn’t sound outta place on The Sword’s latest, IMO.

“Edge of Destiny” is still a killer tune, slower than the first two, though it does speed up a bit. Even with the nasal vocals, it still kicks serious tail. “Her Addiction” on the other hand, is not what you’d expect from a drug tune—it’s a seriously speedy number, but not without groove, coming off like newer Nebula on Dexedrine.

Eighth track “Bandito” comes the closest to the Freedom Hawk I remember. A slow, wah-wah riff with some deeper vocals gives way to a heavy, balls-out chorus. I like this one a lot. “Flat Tire” also works well, sounding kinda like one of the faster Black Sabbath tunes—if Sabbath had hailed from the D.C. area. And the intro to “North Swell” just screams “Electric Funeral!” This is getting better as we go along…

“Standing In Line” is like a back-to-basics blueprint of how to write a stoner rock song. Most bands who can’t quite get it right should take notes. This is how they do it in the Doom Capital. Nuff said!

I actually did pull out their first album after all, and my initial thoughts were confirmed. There has been a significant evolution from their initial release to this one. I actually think my grade for the s/t was a little generous, in hindsight, but this one is well deserved.

(Small Stone)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.