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Hangarvain: Freaks

A couple of years down the line from their clumsily shod Best Ride Horse, Italy's Hangarvain are back with Freaks. Staying true to their beliefs this four piece stick with the same formula as before, a Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge framework used to explore the more obvious side of the likes of Soundgarden, Alice In Chains or Paw. Guitarist Alessandro Liccardo is the band's sole writer and he also arranged and produced everything in sight, so while Hangarvain are a band, this is very much one man's vision.

One of the main drawbacks of Best Ride Horse was illustrated in its name, a strong grasp on English just out of the band's reach. It's an issue that has been addressed on Freaks and yet if you're strongly influenced by a band's lyrics, then there's little here to hang your hat on. Individual lines do make sense now but this is not a set of songs with a clear, or particularly cohesive message and there's even a few words seemingly shoehorned into place more for their rhyming value than their relevance. Things are stronger musically, Freaks, while still shying away from anything even slightly unexpected, a well executed and constructed album. Sergio Toledo has smoothed much of the accent off his delivery, an almost Southern drawl added for effect, while there's no denying Liccardo is a skilled fret man.

"Keep Falling" commences proceedings in confident style, the rumble of guitars and laid back vocals immediately taking you to the land of Black Stone Cherry. However with the wandering vocals reminding of Layne Staley or Eddie Vedder and the layered backing voices giving an even stronger Alice In Chains flavour, the smell of grunge is never far away. "Freaks" continues down the same path, the busy drum work from Mirkko De Maio the pulsing heart that drives another gritty riff towards its conclusion. And that early momentum is maintained through the shout and chant of "Sliding To Hell" and the Paw-like 'keep it neat then hit 'em hard', "Dancing On A Whisper".

However from there on it's hard to shake off the feel that we might just have a full handle on everything that's still to come, "Devil Of The South", "A Coke Shot" or "Stuck In Arizona" a little too happy to repeat the same tricks. It doesn't make Freaks a bad album, just one that falls on the wrong side of uneventful. Still, this is a good step up from Hangarvain and suggests if they can continue to improve at this rate, they may still hit the jackpot. Here however it's a case of close, but no cigar...

Track Listing
1. Keep Falling
2. Freaks
3. Sliding To Hell
4. Dancing On A Whisper
5. Devil Of The South
6. Like Any Other
7. A Coke Shot
8. A Life For Rock'n'roll
9. Stuck In Arizona
10. Ten Years Waiting

Added: September 17th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Hangarvain online
Hits: 1152
Language: english

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