Revelry & Resilience
posted on 10/2012 By:
Gypsyhawk is so much fun that I wish they stuck in my brain more easily. Musically, this is similar material to that tackled by dudes like Holy Cauldron Wizzard Enforcer over the last several years. Heck, a couple of these ’Hawks even jammed in some of those bands I just alluded to. Erik Klubier slung his axe on the middle five tracks of White Wizzard's Over the Top; he replaces Scotty Conant, who was on Gypsyhawk's 2010 premiere, Patience and Perseverance. Bassist / vocalist Eric Harris spent time in Holy Grail around 2008 — though he never recorded with them — and he's the same Eric Harris from Huntress presently and Skeletonwitch formerly.
Are they all about the rockin’ lifestyle, partying on the road and such? That’s what “Overloaded”, “1345”, and “State Lines” all suggest. But A Game of Thrones ostensibly influences half of the fucking album, and that feels a bit off. Okay, benefit of the doubt: Led Zeppelin started ripping Tolkein about 15 years after Lord of the Rings dropped and they rambled on straight to the Battle of Evermore. Ah, but here’s the rub: Although Gypsyhawk has waited about as long to tap that source material, LotR didn’t have the same type of multimedia explosion in the 1970s that Game Of Thrones currently enjoys today. It doesn’t feel intentionally opportunistic… just kinda lazy and unnecessary. Does anyone remember the God of War®: Blood & Metal compilation EP from a couple of years back? The all-kinds-of-awful Taking Dawn contributed a song with fairly generic lyrics interspersed with lines from 300. Same vibe.
Take lead single “Hedgeking” for example — head-bobbing though it may be, it doesn’t take my head off. It lacks either vicious sincerity like Orange Goblin or balls-out silliness like Red Fang. Maybe the guy in the video just reminds me of the Knights Who Say Ni (antlers and all)… and then it becomes hard to take seriously on any level. Sure, Gypsyhawk’s most direct lineage in Thin Lizzy rarely hammered home history lessons, but there’s depth and shade in classics like “Massacre” and “Emerald” that just isn’t found on Revelry & Resilience.
I can definitely get into the memorable hooks and interlocking twin guitar harmonies of “Frostwyrm” (plus the tasty line “expectorate on them from the sky”). The strong production on Revelry & Resilience highlights every last resonant riff, which is certainly where their priorities lie. But Gypsyhawk floats over a razor’s edge of underground metallic badassery and inoffensive backyard party rawk. Gone are experimental jazzy breaks like the intro on “Resentment City”, and it’s much leaner than its predecessor. Every song on R&R is a taut four-minutes-and-change, while far too many songs on Patience and Perseverance hovered around — and cruised well over — the six-minute mark.
The vocals are mixed to the forefront, and Eric Harris sounds like a rougher-hewn version of J.D. Cronise, so it makes sense they’re opening for The Sword in a late 2012 tour run. He sometimes paces his lines poorly, which is odd considering his knack for hooks. Almost every track has ‘em, but parts still drag. Gypsyhawk flies on Icarian wings when they try to head into space on “Galaxy Rise”, and while I like the bloody subject matter of “The Red Wedding”, the song just blindly charges forward without a plan; cobbling kinda-cool parts together does not a complete song make. “Silver Queen” has the opposite problem, where the chorus is easily one of their best-penned, yet is so poorly planted that the song barely demands a repeat.
Don’t bother with the “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” cover unless you wanna hear it updated with “SMOKE WEED!” instead of “Somebody say keep on rocking?” before the solo… not that I’d object to ingesting whatever one likes to enhance the listening experience. But the point is: At least a dozen great groups are skillfully updating the sounds of the ‘70s with new tunes nowadays — not to mention a hundredfold more flirting with mediocrity — and it’s too early to tell if Gypsyhawk will glide into rarefied territory.
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