At first, Jakethehawk’s second album closely adheres to the relentless wave of Stoner Doom. But while Hinterlands (Ripple Music) is rife with the heavy riffs and spaced-out psychedelia typical in the genre, it reveals a deep pool of influences that include Prog Rock, Shoegaze, Alternative, Folk, and a bit of Southern Rock among other tastes. The results are similar to the eclectic blend seen on Fostermother’s 2020 debut, though with a dramatic scope more in line with the likes of Howling Giant or Sergeant Thunderhoof.
This attitude is best seen in the band dynamic, which delivers pummeling with a certain lushness to it. The guitar work is dexterous as the clean tones establish an ethereal atmosphere while the distortion feels more like a crushing wave of haze than overloaded fuzz. The vocals reflect similar shifts, consisting predominately of filtered cleans somewhere between Ty Tabor and Steven Wilson with the occasional bark bursting through. Through it all the rhythm section provides a consistent foundation with the bass, in particular, putting in a sturdy performance.
And while the songs all hover around an average length of six and a half minutes, the fluctuating structures and loose flow result in two distinct halves of the album shining through. The first three songs start things off with the band’s Doom influences up at the forefront. The opening ‘Counting’ and ‘Interzone Mantra’ feature hazy melodies floating above ominously contemplative rhythms while ‘Ochre And Umber’ takes on a more easygoing swing.
On the flip side, the second half is where things get truly intriguing. ‘Still Life’ makes for an immediate curveball, vaguely reminding me of Sturgill Simpson for some reason as acoustic balladry takes over while keeping those trippy inflections. It gets even more satisfying as ‘Uncanny Valley’ pushes toward an up-tempo climax while still retaining that Folk demeanor. From there, the closing ‘June’ makes for an enjoyable culmination.
Overall, Jakethehawk proves to be one of the more unique voices in the Stoner Prog scene with Hinterlands standing out as their most effective effort to date. While it may take a couple of extra listens for their nuances to really sink in, they have enough chemistry and songwriting skill to see it through. The second half makes me wonder if the band could pull off an even deeper immersion into their softer side, which isn’t often said about denizens of the tune low, play slow realm. Definitely, an album that sets the standard for what to expect from the genre in 2021.
Buy the album here: https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/hinterlands