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EP Review: Howling Giant – Black Hole Space Wizard, Pt. 2

I’m not sure why Howling Giant decided to release their awesomely titled Black Hole Space Wizard saga as two EP’s as opposed to a single full-length. Fortunately, the Nashville trio makes the division tactic work as each release focuses on a specific point in the overall narrative as well as different aspects of their Mastodon meets Baroness prog sludge sound. And just as Black Hole Space Wizard, Pt. 1 turned out to be a surprise hit in 2016, Pt. 2 keeps the momentum going in 2017 with its own share of memorable songs and impressive musicianship.

While Pt. 1 matched its frantic narrative of a cosmonaut losing control of his vessel to aggressive yet still melodic music, Pt. 2 pairs slower tempos with the cosmonaut’s exploration of the planet he crash landed on. Once the spaced out buildup and spoken word of the opening “Henry Tate” comes and goes, most of the songs on here mix bass heavy doom grooves with bright Rush-style guitar playing and melodic vocal layering. “The Forest Speaks” is an exception to this rule though it serves as a two minute acoustic number to welcome the story’s mystical turn.

The songwriting don’t quite hit the same highs as “Dirtmouth” or “Clouds of Smoke” off the first EP, but Pt. 2 does have its share of strong tracks. “The Pioneer” may be the most accessible track on either EP thanks to its stoner-friendly bass presence. In addition, “Circle of Druids” and “Earth Witch” have the most epic airs to them thanks to the more prominent keyboards and slow, pounding rhythms.

Overall, Black Hole Space Wizard, Pt. 2 isn’t quite as powerful as Pt. 1 but its strong songs and more varied execution makes it just as valid. The blend of sludge, doom, and prog in conjunction with the memorable songs on both parts are sure to make heavy rock fans take notice of Howling Giant. If anything, it should be fun to play both EP’s back to back as we wait to see how the band will follow this overreaching opus.

Highlights:
“The Pioneer”
“Circle of Druids”
“Earth Wizard”

Black Hole Space Wizard, Pt. 2 is now available from Howling Giant’s Bandcamp page.

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