Hex

Bigelf

Custard, 2003

http://www.bigelf.com

REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/16/2007

Listening to Bigelf’s third studio release, one cannot help but think of the maxim "all that was old is new again." Between the likes of Wolfmother, Sasquatch and Bigelf, the rock sounds of the late 60s and early 70s are making a comeback like never before.

Hex is something of a polished time capsule; an amalgam of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and modern production values. Things kick off with “Madhatter,” a sludgy opener with fuzzed-out riffs and eerie vocal harmonies. There’s a real psychedelic vibe about things, almost like an unholy blend of Sabbath and Sgt. Pepper. Dark, heavy and kooky, it’s a great opener. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Bats in the Belfry II” (yes, part II comes before part I) is quite a turnaround, ditching riff-rock for a sound straight out of Floyd. Vocalist Damon Fox bears an uncanny resemblance to David Gilmour at times, and the mix of odd synthesizers and effects give this slow-paced number a bit of novelty appeal.

These two tracks set the tone for the bulk of the album. "Disappear," "Rock and Roll Contract" and "Burning Bridges" sound a lot like a modern spin on Floyd, with a nod to the Beatles in their more experimental phase. "Burning Bridges" is probably the best of them, due to its harder edge. While Bigelf do a good job of capturing the sound of psychedelia and blending it with stoner rock, most of the Floydian efforts run a bit long -- anywhere from five to eight minutes -- without changing things up a great deal.

The lumbering, hard-rock numbers are where the band really shines. "Pain Killers" is a great song, with Fox growling out a memorable chorus of "They're coming to take me away!" amidst a backdrop of howling sirens. Ace Mark's rough guitar sound and detuned riffing make it one of the standout tracks. "Carry The Load" is another great rock tune carried by heavy guitars and featuring some trippy vocal effects. "Falling Bombs" has some great interplay between the guitar and organ parts.

The best number, far and away, is "Sunshine Suicide." A singable and more melodic effort than most of the cuts on the album, it has a sense of groove to it that the psychedelic and hard rock songs lack. Mark's clean soloing is quite tasteful. Here the band manages to break out of its 70s nostalgia mold and capture its own sound.

Bigelf does an admirable job of capturing the sounds of the late 60s and early 70s rock scene and modernizing them for a new generation of listeners. And, more importantly, on the occasions where the band ventures out of retro mode the songs are still just as good. Re-issued in North America in 2007, fans of stoner-rock and psychedelia will find it hard to go wrong with Hex, an album that skillfully captures and reinvents the sounds of the past without seeming bound by it.

Rating: B

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© 2007 Ben McVicker and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Custard, and is used for informational purposes only.