This band could go a long long way….
Giant Dwarf are a new band from Perth, Australia, and this their eponymous debut album is an absolute gem. Musically, they plant their flag firmly in stoner territory with the stars of that genre (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age) being a visible influence along with the harder edge of groups like Fu Manchu, plus some heavier psychedelic rock touches more in the vein of bands like Avatarium. Having said that, the band doesn’t sound too similar to any of the bands cited and they have managed to weave the various influences into something unique and genuinely interesting.
There is something raw and visceral about this album. Pounding rhythms prevail thanks to relentless drumming from Luke Draicevich, supported by bassist Scott Paterson and distorted riffs from one or both of the two guitarists (Russell Crawford and Richard Fowler). Often while one guitarist is booming away with psychedelic chords, the second one is adding effective guitar touches: take Repeat After Defeat where the subtle guitar lick turns this into a really memorable song.
At just thirty five minutes and eight tracks, the album is not of a generous duration even for vinyl, but it does benefit from this conciseness. Songs aren’t plagued by lengthy intros or meandering solos and every song grabs and maintains your attention. That doesn’t mean that songs follow a predictable four minute verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus pattern. On the contrary, the structure within the songs is also often interesting with unexpected changes. Listen to opener Golden Walrus. It opens with a doom-like riff and psychedelic licks, and then just as the music hesitates in comes vocalist Aaron Sopolinski over a new and unexpected faster jaunty riff. At around the half-way stage the music then verges into a quirky almost jazzy section before building to a blistering guitar solo over the introductory riff.
The roots of stoner music go back a long way and to my ears some of those influences can be heard here too. Black Thumb has an Iommi-style lick which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an early Sabbath album. Kepler, has the sort of catchy commercial melody that harks back to the best days of Blue Oyster Cult.
It really is hard to believe that this is a debut album. The playing is tight, the composition mature and confident, and even the 60s style packaging all seems to fit perfectly. This band could go a long long way. Check them out.