Nashville is going to have some major metal explosion to persuade people to stop thinking musically of only its country scene and heritage and you assume would be a feat too far, or maybe not if there are more bands like Dark Hound bubbling away and emerging in its underground scene. The quartet has a sound, as evidenced by their new EP Oceans, which does not yet dramatically startle or threaten the limits of originality to any of the varied metal flavours it skilfully employs yet it persistently entices with something fresh and unpredictable as it provides a thoroughly enjoyable time. The follow up to the band’s acclaimed self-titled debut album, the EP is an immediate and constant adventure of craft and imagination which maybe will not have you shouting from the rooftops but has a fair chance of making Dark Hound a band you hungrily want more of.
The 2009 formed band consists of long-time friends in vocalist/bassist ET Brown, guitarists Elliot Gordon (Clorange) and Evan Hensley (Nightfall), and drummer Josh Brown (Enfold Darkness, Nashvillbilly). Their first full-length pushed their local success into a broader attentive spotlight with accompanying critical acclaim but now with the release of the Frank Serafine recorded Oceans it is easy to expect a more forceful nudge on wider recognition and appetites.
The band’s influences list the likes of Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Arch Enemy, Testament, and Dream Theater, numerous hints which do indeed spill in varying degrees from the enterprise and imagination of EP and opening song Thread. Classic melodic enticing and drama opens it up, rhythms commanding as they stir things further and spark the song to hit an infectious and muscular stride. Already imagination is fuelling vocals and the landscape of the song, unexpected and spicy twists wrong footing expectations as the band reveals a potent almost mischievous resourcefulness to their songwriting and ambition. As suggested earlier there is a spread of many spices within the band’s sound, engaging ears here with anthemic thrash and heavy metal aligned to old school and modern creativity.
The strong start continues with To Know End, a song brewing up its magnetic persuasion from its first sonic breath with bass and beats an instant imposing flirtation quickly enhanced by wiry strands of guitar grooving. There is an early predatory swagger to the track too, one emulated in the appealing variety of ET Brown’s vocal delivery with his tones as imaginative as the sounds around him. A sense of familiarity is also, as with every song, a swift temptation but soon woven into something refreshing on the ear and impressing on thoughts. For all the variation of metal involved, again thrash and heavy metal a rich essence, there is a healthy if understated whisper of Suicidal Tendencies blowing across the tempestuous landscape at times, a probably coincidental spicing which just adds something extra to the song and release.
Just as Blind shares a grungier hue to its earthy melodic stroll next, the track more a stalking than a charge but with a volatile belly of energy and voracious shadows constantly giving depth and intimidation to the satisfaction bloating encounter. The band calls their sound metal and that is best as just trying to pin down the flavours within the third song would use a paragraph in tagging it.
The EP keeps its best two tracks for its climax starting with Rearview Mirror, a masterful and incendiary collusion of contagious endeavour and predatory textures twisted into a seriously addictive and fierce waltz of new and old ideation. The track has body and emotions enslaved, recruited to its cause early though even it has to conceive best track honours to the EP’s closing encounter. The title track toys with the imagination through its dark drama from its opening seeds, ears caught at the same time and seduced further by the flowing slip through frenetic and mellow creative scenery. Hooks and grooves are no less potent and relentless, whilst the bass of the frontman seems to get heavier and more bestial with every passing minute.
It is a tremendous end to what is a mouth-watering and severely enjoyable release. Dark Hound has a sound and presence, as mentioned earlier, which does not cause major surprises but it would be unfair not to admit each listen leaves a stronger and increasingly lingering impression. It will be interesting to see how the band continues to evolve but more of the same next time will not be a cause of disappointment.
The self-released Oceans EP is available from 10th July