There’s nothing pretty about Heavy Lord, and that’s a good thing. They don’t have a nice website. Their bio wouldn’t make it past a high school newspaper editor. They don’t even give us last names. What they do give us is uncompromising, heavy rock and roll music.
In their own words: “We play ultraloud and uncompromising music like a big kick in your guts.”
At some point in the late nineties, metal defined itself as shredding guitars played to drum-machine-perfect, insanely-fast beats on top of unintelligible screaming. What used to be that one cool, heavy track on some albums became the norm. Metal got heavier, but lost its character and soul in the process.
Balls to All breaks that mold with slow, brooding guitars, rock and roll drum beats and distinguishable baselines. At its core, Balls to All is heavy. It just adds a bit of style into the mix.
The album opens with forty-eight seconds of acoustic guitar, then rips into forty-five minutes of hard, ballsy rock. The title track Balls to All, Kick Teeth and Fear the Beard really showcase the back-and-forth play of guitarists Wes-Lee and Jeff. Dieselweed and Mare Tranquillatis have a post-metal feel, with two-and-a-half minute interludes between various crashes and crescendos. Unfortunately, those interludes are a bit indulgent and a full minute can go by without anything interesting happening.
Although, not the best song on the album, Drown is the most interesting. It exhibits the band’s commercial potential, and its most glaring weakness. Drown is the type of song that crosses boundaries and appeals to hard-music fans of the various sub-genres. However, without improving the vocal talent of the band, Heavy Lord will find little acceptance outside of a narrow audience. I don’t know the band’s aspirations and would not presume to speak for them, but a little more vocal ability could take them a long way.
Little quirks aside, Balls to All is a fantastic album, and the type of music that just might breathe some life into a stale genre.
1) Back When the Giants Ruled the Earth
2) Balls to All
3) Kick Teeth
5) Fear the Beard
7) Mare Tranquillatis