A true sleeper hit in every sense of the word, The Space Between Worlds’ style may not be the most innovative, but damn is it tasty. Introducing themselves with three tauntingly brief EP’s since 2015, including the hella fun two-part Black Hole Space Wizard arc, Nashville trio Howling Giant fuses the fuzz of stoner doom with the ambition of prog rock. The Space Between Worlds is a true first full-length, and one that takes its time to unravel, unlike the immediacy of its predecessors. Balancing ambition with accessibility, it’s an extremely rewarding album in its spacey, fuzzy approach, that deserves far more recognition than it has been given.
Howling Giant‘s cosmic theme, although not particularly unique, works quite well in its throwback style.1 While it’s certainly not a far cry from stoner rock’s similarly psychedelic themes, it grounds the sound, walking the razor’s edge between haze and hook. While cosmic stalwarts like early tech-death The Faceless or thrashy Vektor sport an often sleek, mechanical, and decidedly futuristic take on their respective themes, Howling Giant walks the path of the mighty Kyuss and offers suffocatingly colossal stoner riffs that represent universal hugeness instead. Tracks like hard-hitter “Nomad,” the awesomely named “Cybermancer and The Doomsday Express,” and mammoth closer “Stone Giant” offer bone-crushing riffs atop appropriately striking and spastic percussion a la Mastodon alongside huge choruses and harmonies, while the subdued “Ice Castles” and enigma “The Orb” offer piercing icy melodies that cut through supernovae of fuzz.
The Black Hole Space Wizard EPs were extremely fun, but their brevity kept the sound from expanding as deep into the vacuums as it was capable of. What separates The Space Between Worlds, therefore, is its meditative qualities, thanks to its much more appropriate length. Tracks like opener jack-of-all-trades “Comet Rider,” the Blue2sy Baroness-esque “Ghosts in the Well,” and epic centerpiece “Everlight” feel refreshingly organic, dynamics expanding with the movement of the bass. This carefree atmosphere allows heavy metal solos, vocal hooks, and morphing riffs to emerge like debris and asteroids from the void, and shows Howling Giant‘s focus on the authentic, going beyond simply songwriting to hinting at aural universe-building.
No, Howling Giant‘s first full-length is not perfect. In spite of its strengths, it still has a ways to go before it can separate itself from the haze of its peers, the vocal mixing could use some work, and there are tracks that are simply not as memorable as others. But these Music City rockers have released a truly impressive first album, and even more impressively done as an unsigned group. While some would likely argue it’s too long at almost fifty minutes, it flew by for me and left me craving more by the time “Stone Giant” faded out. Snatch The Space Between Worlds up before it floats by this year.
Tracks to Check Out: “Nomad,” “Everlight,” “Stone Giant”