Heavy America - ...Now (2017)

Written by Michael Saulman, posted by blog admin

Rugged like the face of the Rockies, hot and in the red like Sahara temperatures and cool like Lake Erie, rock n’ roll trio Heavy America have a sound that mimics the climates and features of worldly natural wonders.  Something about the band’s guitar driven, rhythm centric sound as well as the gritty vocals of lead singer Mike Seguin just smacks of beautiful yet dangerous terrain. 

On their first LP offering (aside from singles and an EP), the band delves into the mystery of good ol’ fashioned epic rock n’ roll whilst knowing when to take away the frills and blast eardrums in an avalanche of amplified guitar rock and thundercrack drum n’ bass shakedowns.  You could have found these guys on a concert bill between The Outlaws/Pat Travers and it wouldn’t have seemed odd or out of place.  For reference, kick-off jam “Proud Shame” runs the gamut; showers of reverb-heavy, melodic guitars brush shoulders against soft driving rhythms before the entire band locks onto gnarly hard rock border-lining on early metal.  The sound is throwback, though manages to avoid outright plagiarism.
Stripped down production reduces the tunes to their barest elements without taking away the silver linings as heard on single-worthy, multiple personality groover “Bleed Mary.”  An infectious, almost acoustic guitar melody refrains throughout the verses with the rhythm section underplaying their hand (not in a bad way).  Then drummer Dan Fried pounds into the beat, the riff erodes the mind like tidal waves and the entire band launches into a chorale-styled gang vocal.  They wind things to a close with the kind of loose, free-form hard rock jamming absent from the mainstream.  “Pray For Me” rips into a straight laceration, eliminating some of the band’s progressive interplay for poker faced heavy rocking which they are also adept at on not just this tune but the blues’ slink of “Sweet Kisses,” the thudding power rock of “Goliath” and brushfire burn of “Achilles Fail” locked on guitar rock bursts.   

Heavy America is at their best though when they try their hand at more intensive, exploratory cuts that slowly unfold as opposed to going straight for the jugular.  The hallucinatory “Casting Stones” is all over the place; calm, quiet and poised like Neil Young one moment with raw guitar melodies given plenty of room by the rhythm section to breathe life until cut down like a cornfield by a combine thanks to cleaving drum fills, livid bass lines and sickle hooked riff figures.  “I Can Take It” could be the album’s greatest piece, dodging traditional arrangements altogether for angular rhythmic turns trudging a solemn death march underneath FX-smothered, lurid guitar lines that move more brain cells than any drug could possibly muster.  They also touch on traditional country and folk elements, shrouding the melodic creep of “Heavy Eyes” in an old tyme-y shadow where horse drawn buggies and tumbleweeds took up as much space as people on the streets.  The hard rock tunes are good, energetic fun but it’s when the band blows their sound wide open with experimentation that they really shine on …Now and there are more than enough of those moments to go around.