The Hidden Hand
The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote
posted on 5/2007 By:
Folks, you’re safe as houses in ol’ Wino’s hands. The doom luminary (doominary?) has delivered the goods for years with classics from his work in Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Place of Skulls, and Spirit Caravan. His able collaborators on The Hidden Hand’s The Resurrection of Whisky Foote are Bruce Falkinburg (bass/vocals) and recently departed drummer, Evan Tanner. The band’s third effort is a semi-conceptual piece based on a fictional character that lived during early America’s settlement. This ain’t Operation: Mindcrime, so don’t expect to be beaten about the head and shoulders with character development and plot twists; the story here boils down to themes of resistance, overcoming obstacles, and truly living life.
The album opens with a pair of brief and very different tracks that seem to function almost as a two-part prelude. "Purple Neon Dream" sounds a little like its title suggests, setting a psychedelic tone with its spacey, echoing vocals and slow, hazy groove. This vibe is immediately wiped clean by "Someday Soon"(which doesn’t sound a bit like its name), the most foreboding, doomy moment of the album. After its twin openers, the record finds a more even stylistic stride, beginning with the insistent drumming and riffs of the fist-pumping battery of "Dark Horizons". The album also has a very raw, live and organic sound that perfectly complements the material and emphasizes the equal contributions of the trio, making it especially effective when the band slips into an easy, laid back groove on tracks such as "Spiritually Bereft".
There’s a strong but hard to pin down aura of mysteriousness on The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote that results from its themes and the manner of their execution, as The Hidden Hand shift effortlessly between tie-dyed smokiness, good old-fashioned rock & roll, and more intense, muscular material. No doubt the band gets big time mileage from both its lean, optimized power trio ability and the fantastic vocal partnership of Wino and Falkinburg. Like the common human themes as told through a setting of early US history, much of the work of Wino and Co. is truly timeless and classic, but there’s a vaguely experimental and less tangible side as well, which makes for an album full of character.
It’s damn near impossible to suppress a physical reaction to the ass-shaking Southern rock & roll boogie of the one-two punch of the title track and "Lightning Hill", the latter of which features some absolutely screaming harmonica leads. “Broke Dog” takes a brawnier approach, featuring some of the most punishing rhythm work of the set. Closer “Slow Rain” awakens slowly with a psychedelic verse that yields to heavier work and an extended jammy section that serves as a nice cathartic culmination of the album. Though it’s a bit of a grower, The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote is an excellent effort quite worthy of your attention. The album has been out for a bit, so this review will be old news to the Wino faithful, but if you’ve been on the fence, it’s time to remedy that.
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