Honcho – Battle Of Wits   5 comments

I thought seeing as 2010 is drawing to a close, I better fit this review in seeing as so many people are raving about this album from the Norwegians that call themselves Honcho. I have seen that this album is featured high on many top 10 lists for the year and has even made it to number one on a couple of them and it is indeed a very good album but number one material, really ? One thing that is obvious from the get-go is Honcho are not your typical Scandinavian stoner-rock band, they have something about them that sets them apart from the norm. Even though the influences of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Clutch and Black Sabbath can be heard, Honcho have a writing quality that most stoner rockers can’t quite reach whether it is the injection of blues into their songs or the classy drumming, the band are sheer perfectionists when it comes to how they deliver their tunes. This is their third album and I feel this is their best album overall, it is not as immediately kick ass in the same way as the debut album “Corporate Rock” was but once this album gets inside of you, you can get hooked by the huge-ness of their riffs, the power of the drumming and their retro riff-rock fuzz.

Starting with a tune titled “Visine” this album cranks up the grooves which in many ways is closer to Led Zeppelin than it is to Dozer or other Scandinavian fuzz-rock outfits. Second track “Changes” shows they are not content with spewing out fuzz-rock riffs without much thought, this tune has a Seattle grunge rock edge especially in the chorus while the following “Coupe De Ville” is the perfect driving while intoxicated song with its high-octane energetic riffing. “Fade To Grey” is one of those more bluesy numbers that I was referring to earlier and “Brought A Gun To The Knife Fight” is one part MC5, one part Blue Cheer but played with infectious melodies. The real heavy side of the band returns somewhat on “KOT (Knowing The Oak Tree)” that brings in elements of Sabbathian doom with big grooves. The guitar duo of Halvor Berg and Håkon Eng know their stuff as they play with real passion and they know there is more to making great songs than just big dumb riffs, there is a real underlying class to their musicianship. Singer Trond Skog also has a lot of soul in its voice that makes the band a bit different from the other bands that simply play sped-up Sabbath riffs with Ozzy-esque vocal lines.

The second half of the disc is not as impressive as the first or at least not to my ears. “Nihilism” is pretty standard 70’s rock worship while “Powerlock” despite being one of the more doom-laced tracks on the album never really gets going even though I do admire their versatility on this track. “Rites Of Passage” rocks out in a Hellacopters meets Fu Manchu kind of way but is very generic in its approach but that is my opinion only. “Earth” gets back to the real heavy again and I love the second half of this tune when they add a mystical element into the song. When the band do slow down a bit is when they seem to come up with their most interesting material and “Earth” is one of the highlights on the album and saves the second half from being just ordinary. The closing track “Clovers” is the longest track and the most atmospheric with a mesmerizing floating vibe along with some great fuzz-rock in its middle section. Despite being over 9 minutes, it never drags on too long, it’s a beautifully crafted song and a great way to end the album. In conclusion then this a very good album that makes me wonder why they have to release an album themselves, they should have a decent label behind them by now promoting the hell of this stuff. While there might be 3 or 4 so-so moments on the album depending on your taste, this is still an album worth buying for fans of Kyuss, Dozer, Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu and like I mentioned before some people are falling over themselves about this disc so go check it out and see what all the fuss is about. I don’t like it as much as some folks out there but what the f**k do I know…7.5/10
Honcho @ Myspace

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Posted December 19, 2010 by doommantia in Honcho

5 responses to “Honcho – Battle Of Wits

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  1. Thanks for sharing. I have always been a huge fan of this artist and they have influenced me to be good musician, a guitarist to be more specific.

  2. I don't know about this. This isn't really anything original. Yea it's a bit catchy, but I'd rather just listen to Kyuss or some other groovey rock band. Is it because they're norwegians not playing black metal that gets this hype? I don't know…

    This is like one of those bands that if they're playing before the headliner, you might check em out, but you're not going to the show to see them.

    Overall though…this is catchy, but won't stick. Time to put on some Blues for the Red Sun.

  3. Found this album also on a few forums, didn't know them and figured them out this past weekend. I dont understand the fuzz, its a solid alsbum but not more then a 6.

  4. One of the few reviews this year that I disagree…
    Sure its a bit different from their previous releases with blues influences appear more often than stoner ones, but if you give it sometime it really grows into you!

    top 10 material? no…not really but still good though!

  5. Dr Doom, I do like the album especially the first half of the disc. I never said I didn't like it, I just don't like it as much as a lot of other people.

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