Pronounced like the truck, sHeavy (yes, with the capital “H”) are back with their fourth major label release. This time around, the band has grabbed the producing genius Billy Anderson to put Republic? in wax for a result that shows the band yet again subtly changing their focus. On their last release, Synchronized, we saw sHeavy shifting from epic, long-running, doom to a more direct, and in my opinion utterly ingenious lighter approach. The tracks on the last disc were catchy as fuck and had bass lines that could get girls wet in just three seconds. Kind of makes you wonder if this stuff could make for a good porno soundtrack…
On Republic? the band has returned to the heavier guitars and even some of their old doom sound, though they don’t force the listener to be as patient as on Celestial Hi-Fi and The Electric Sleep. Many of the riffs are right there for you to take, and the band plays them fearlessly. Opening with “The Rook” sHeavy demonstrates right off the bat that their new take on stoner rock is direct, as this track is short, crushing and simple. No spacey bridges, no pop-fringed anthems, just solid doom played with an AC/DC attitude; a perfect opener. Thankfully the band doesn’t stay this simple, as they quickly shift to some of their strongest, deepest work to date with “Spy vs Spy” and the epic “Standing at the Edge of the World” playing back to back after easing us into the idea with “Hangman.” The disc continues stylishly with a few more mid-paced jaw breakers, including the ultra-grooving “The Man Who Never Was” before launching into the lighter, boppier “ Stingray Part III” and “Imitation of Christ.” Republic? winds down with a throwback to their last album as “Last Chance…Gremlin X” would have fit nicely with the material on Synchronized.
In all, Republic? is (surprise, surprise) another fucking solid sHeavy release. It has all the earmarks of the their earlier sounds, though it also demonstrates that the band will not sit around contentedly, waiting for their approach to get stale. sHeavy once again prove that they’re one of the very best stoner/doom bands in the scene. All that seems to be missing is a tour, which just so happens to be hitting the states this fall.
Spy vs Spy