The power trio from the Canadian Southwest, Woodhawk, looks rock and roll straight in the eyes with Violent Nature.
Building from the ground up with their debut EP then their first full-length album Before the Sun, Woodhawk has steadily grown a fan base enamored with their approachable classic rock sound. Turner Midzain (guitar, vocals), Mike Badmington (bass, vocals), and Kevin Nelson (drums) throw out a wall of music bigger than you would expect from a trio. The basic guitar-bass-drums chemistry works an alchemical spell to generate memorable riffs and solid compositions.
Violent Nature is the band’s newest studio work, and it builds on the experience they have gained from their first two releases. The album starts strong. The surprisingly dramatic opening of “Snake in the Grass” leads to a buzzy roll of guitars and an unexpected piano break, the precise kind of surprise needed to snap the listener to attention at the beginning of the set. The sound is loud and heavy in the next song, “Weightless Light.” The vocals are assertive and urgent: “The weight upon my chest translates into my head / I try to breathe without a breath, but choke on what I’ve said / Do I deserve the silence that echoes endlessly / Drag me from the darkness of memory and misery.” The frantic guitars are still there on the next song, “Dry Blood,” and the message in the words is more active this time, even more aggressive. Midzain steps in for the first time with a rousing lead break on “Heart Stopper,” and right on time. By the middle of the album we know what lane the band is in and they play it well. The songs all have a full sound and always a sharp shot at the right time, and a clever turn here and there that keeps the landscape fresh. I hope they make it south of the border on their next tour so I can see them live. Or maybe Heavy Montreal next year?
Violent Nature is available in vinyl now on the band’s website, and in digital at Bandcamp and the usual other places. The band has a couple of British Columbia dates on the books in May – check out their website for the latest updates on their tour which will get going as soon as the air clears.
Band photo by Trevor Hatter.