Hawks - Self-Titled

[Rejuvenation Records, 2014]


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Rejuvenation Records | Bandcamp

“This record documents HAWKS in their raw, natural state. How and where they write the shit that they write.” – from HAWKS’ Bandcamp page

Given that it was recorded primarily to promote their recent European tour, it feels like this new HAWKS record never got the hometown exposure it deserved. Which is a shame, because the LP, which contains six new cuts to go along with five previously released rippers, finds the band at their bludgeoning best, all hammering grooves and sharp edges.

Lead track “Wrong” is the proverbial fuse here, a wiry noise-rock thriller that yanks the band out from the turgid, mid-tempo slough they dug for themselves with 2012′s killer Push Over, and drops them into far leaner and more propulsive territory. The ugly, menacing belligerence is still there, but it’s strapped to a rocket-propelled backbeat and spring-loaded guitars smeared in echo and distortion. Vocalist Michael Keenan is in fine form, spitting, growling and bellowing his way through the tempest like a crazed street preacher selling the virtues of sex, sloth and violence. It’s a beautiful thing when all of HAWKS’ constituent parts come together as one and here they’re firing on all cylinders.

“Hard Cash” is another scowling kick to the groin; the whole things just seems to stumble about in a drunken lurch, part cockeyed indifference, part menacing anger. But the longer you listen the more the band ratchets up the tension until there’s nothing left but a thousand-yard stare groove and guitars like balled fists. Elsewhere, “Snag” crashes through your speakers with battering ram force while “Endurance for Self Abuse” delivers the sort of jagged, sheet-metal clamor that Lousiville’s Young Widows (whom HAWKS opened up for just a few weeks ago) have been perfecting as of late. Finally, “Bastard Test,” the last and quite possibly the best of the new tracks, closes it all out in a euphoric rush of seething hardcore riffs and four-on-the-floor fury.

As for the older stuff, what can you say? They’re mostly top-shelf screamers pulled from either Push Over or its predecessor, RUB. They don’t sound quite as good as the more finely-produced originals, but the ragged intensity is there throughout. In theory, the idea is a great one: take one of Atlanta’s most visceral bands and have them record songs in their practice space in an attempt to capture the music in its purest, most caustic form. Credit guitarist Andrew Wiggins, who handled production duties on the record, for sticking to the script and keeping things simple, dirty and mean. This certainly won’t be HAWKS’ defining moment, but it’s definitely among their best.

HAWKS perform tonight at the Earl as part of a benefit for Clayton Anderson. Also performing will be Wetburger (Big Jesus playing a covers set) The Powder Room, Order of the Owl and Ron Mexico. Doors open at 9 pm. Admission is $7.

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