The Hidden Hand
Mothers, Teachers, Destroyers
Southern Lord Records
Mothers, Teachers, Destroyers‘ opening number, “The Crossing,” is most reminiscent of Hidden Hand mainmain “Wino” Weinrich’s past work with Saint Vitus. It’s an ominous doom stomper that morphs into a faster Joy Division-esque minimalism and then devolves back into dark brooding. Wino’s vocals are, as ever, incredible (it’s one of those records that you want to throw at Ozzy and be like, “Where have you been doing for the last few years?”), eerie and disembodied like a dark-glass oracle. So much ancient wisdom which…
… makes it even more fascinating that Wino has injected a heavy dose of political and cultural awareness into The Hidden Hand’s punishing groove. Don’t be surprised to hear references to Bohemian Grove (“Coffin Lily” — ouch, google it, my friends) and infotainment media’s inherent bias/deference towards those in power (“Desensitized”). And when he’s not singing about that, Wino and friends are taking us on free-form journeys to hitherto-unexplored regions of the human innerspace and spiritual plane, coupled with a reaching, keening music, best exemplified by the ecstatic reach of “Black Ribbon.” But it works, setting the temporal squarely beside the spiritual. A thorough scrubbing of one’s third eye fits well with the wide-open musical exploration of Mothers Teachers Destroyers because…
… it’s not just doom, it’s an epic, joyous, heavy-as-hell jam that diverges wildly from the doom template to take in classic rock, psychedelia and even jazz fusion influences, while always keeping the central tenet in mind: Though shalt be heavy. Bass player Bruce Falkinburg, from Spirit Caravan, stays on with Wino for this new project; his dinosaur low-end brings to mind Jack Bruce’s heavier moments in Cream, oddly. And with new drummer Dave Hennessy adding all sorts of total power and innovative flourishes, there’s jazz-level intensity and telepathy in this power trio. Additionally, I’d be more apt to compare The Hidden Hand to Spiritualized than Sabbath or Vitus, just for the epic wanderlust and hymn-like grandeur of many of the songs.
“Magdalene” is built out of the same deceptive simplicity and brute heaviness as the Melvins combined with a keen ear for melody and a soaring chorus that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on rock radio once. Standout fucking track. “Currents” has some Brian Wilson-esque vocal harmonies soaring over topographic expenses of space-rock grandiosity. Somewhere between the Grateful Dead and Pentagram? “Sons of Kings” is pure creeping-death heaviness. Single riff bludgeoning, gives way to a spidery, Fugazi-esque jam before decay sets in, the perfect soundtrack to some powerful Illiad-referencing or anti-war(?) lyrics. And how can you (YOU!) not love an album that ends with a punishing prog-distorto instrumental titled “The Deprogramming of Tom Delay?” You just can’t.
Timeless, let’s face it. 1970. 2070. All the same.
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