Gypsyhawk (Los Angeles, CA) –
“Combining the sound of Thin Lizzy, Hawkwind, and Black Sabbath with – somehow – just a few average dudes out there to return music to the people that appreciate it, Gypsyhawk is a band’s band, a fan’s band…and a god damn rock band when rock and roll needs it most. In a time when music is shoveled down your throat, Gypsyhawk backs up the walk (and mabye a little swagger) with rock. The band’s first… show in their hometown of Pasadena, Calif. yielded an enthusiastic and devoted crowd, showing the promise Gypsyhawk holds in the palm of their hands…well, as soon as this next solo is done. Then they’ll have a free hand…. Turn down the lights and turn up the tunes indeed.”
Venomous Maximus (Houston, TX) –
“Yeah, I know I’m way, way behind on this one… For some reason, the debut 7″ from metal dudes Venomous Maximus has just taken a little while to grow on me. I’m not entirely sure why — this stuff is really and truly up my alley, especially lately, when my car’s stereo practically lives on a diet of Red Fang, Priestess, and The Sword. I’d put it in there and listen, expecting to love it outright, but it just didn’t… click, at least not immediately.
In the end, I think it’s drummer Bongo who won me over; try as I might, I just can’t get that stomping, crushing, heavy-yet-not-bassy rhythm on A-side “Give Up The Witch” out of my damn head. Once I was sucked in, I found myself grinning and nodding along, mentally ticking off a big list of all my own metal heroes as I listened. This is the sound of a bunch of guys who I’d bet came up listening to and loving classic metal, from Sabbath to Metallica to Maiden, and they fly that influence proudly, holding it over their collective heads like a flag.
In doing so, they call to mind all three of those bands I mentioned above, especially The Sword, considering the subject matter of “Witch” (it’s about, duh, a witch). B-side “The Living Dead” is a little more contemporary, less in the fantasy-metal vein, but hell, even then it’s nicely busy and bluesy, closer to Red Fang or Early Man than the previous track.
Now, I know it’ll sound strange, but to me the coolest thing about this 7″, honestly, is that the Venomous Maximus guys know when not to overdo it. I hear a crap-ton of metal each week, and far, far too much of it is bruisingly heavy and overloaded, with growly, unintelligible vocals crammed into my ears so deep they give me a freaking headache. I’m all for dynamics and up-front production and all that, definitely, but sometimes it’s really just a distraction.
Not here, though — for being a heavy, sharp-edged slab of metal, the record is relatively clean and straightforward, sound-wise. On both songs, I can make out every damn word frontman/tattoo artist Gregg Higgins is bellowing into the mic, every twisting, distorted riff that comes out of Christian Larson’s guitar, and even the surprisingly melodic little bass bits Trevi Biles throws into the mire on “The Living Dead.” And that’s very cool, at least to me.
So there you go. Late though I am in saying it, yeah, I’ll admit it: I’m fucking loving these guys.” – Jeremy Hart, Space City Rock
Automatic Thrill (Houston, TX) –
Houston’s very own heavy metal, rock’n’roll, local band developed for your aural pleasure.