By Andrew Bansal
Pasadena-based classic heavy metal band Gypsyhawk have been around since 2008. In their initial years they were playing shows around the LA area, but ever since their self-released debut full-length album “Patience And Perseverance” came out in 2010, they’ve made rapid progress as a band and when you compare their stature now to what it was back then, it would be an understatement to say that they’ve moved leaps and bounds. They’ve signed with Metal Blade Records, started touring and playing bigger shows, got on the lineup for the upcoming Mayhem Festival cruise, and many other such things happened for them. But the one thing I was most looking forward to from them was their Metal Blade debut record. “Revelry & Resilience” was released last month, and a few days back I finally got a chance to listen to it.
Musically, they had something in them that caught my attention straightaway when I saw them for the first time in March last year, something that put them above the hundreds of local bands I had already seen by then. The fact that they aren’t so ‘local’ anymore simply vindicates this point further. Tunes like “Commander Of The High Forest”, “Gypsyhawk” and “Defenders Of Good Times” presented the band’s style of no-frills 70s hard rock reminiscent of the likes of Thin Lizzy and Motorhead, two bands that truly mastered the art back in the day. Their new album carries on the same tradition, and what’s more, they’ve done an even better job at it as compared to the debut effort.
The solidly heavy, catchy and lively opening track “Overloaded” provides a rollicking start to the album, and sets the tone perfectly for what’s to follow. In many ways, it makes sense as an opening track. It continues from where the band left off in the previous album, but has that extra bit of zest and strength to it that denotes the forward step taken by the band musically. It boasts of an excellently crafted guitar solo towards the end, and leads into “The Fields”, a song that has been around for a while now. I actually heard this at my first Gypsyhawk gig, and been a fan of it since then. The initial buildup, the main riff, the guitar harmonies and the vocals, everything just blends in together on this song and creates a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. After hearing these two opening tracks, it would be almost impossible for anyone to not listen to the rest of the album.
“Hedgeking” is a relatively laid-back tune, heavier on the vocals and rhythm for the most part, and Eric Harris’ bass and Ian Brown’s drums are more prominent on here than on other tracks. But the guitar solos are once again exemplary and hold the song together very well. The album moves from strength to strength, and the next few tracks “Frostwyrm”, “Galaxy Rise” and “1345” turn out to be gems in their own right, specially “1345” which is one of my favorite tunes on the album. This highly dynamic track has everything in it from a dreamy slow intro to fast and furious segments, and I see this as a certainty in the band’s live set. As expected, “Night Songs From The Desert” serves as a complete contrast, and its downtempo nature gives the listener a chance to take a breather and absorb everything in. Eric Harris holds his vocal notes brilliantly in this tune, and adjusts to the changing tempo quite admirably. In fact, his performance on the entire album is amazing, and he has handled this challenging task with great aplomb.
The album continues to offer killer tunes, and the last four songs don’t disappoint in any way whatsoever, the delightful “Silver Queen” in particular, as it’s another one of the ‘older’ songs that I’ve already seen played live. Just listening to it brought back some great memories from those Gypsyhawk gigs. “State Lines” is a fast-paced tune reminiscent of Motorhead, and is made for the headbangers. The album comes to an end with the fun-filled “Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo”, and leaves the listener wanting more.
Even though my expectations were high, this album was better than what I had predicted, in all honesty. None of these songs are even five minutes in length, yet they are musically so rich and dynamic, it only showcases the quality of songwriting, and the extent to which the guys have progressed in their musicianship is just incredible. Each of the four members have greatly raised their own levels, and the result is a memorable hard rock album. If this doesn’t end up as one of the best albums of 2012, I’d be shocked.
Perhaps the only thing they did better in the first album is the cover artwork, and I still love the Patience And Perseverance cover more than this one. But other than that, Gypsyhawk can be extremely proud of their efforts here. In terms of musical style, they are not reinventing the wheel by any means, but they are playing their part in bringing back a style of hard rock that used to be enormously popular in the 70s, and making it sound cool again in 2012. For lovers of classic hard rock, Gypsyhawk’s “Revelry & Resilience” is not a recommendation, but a necessity.
Related: Interview with Eric Harris
Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: August 28th 2012
2. The Fields
5. Galaxy Rise
7. Night Songs from the Desert
8. The Red Wedding
9. Silver Queen
10. State Lines
11. Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo