Chicago has served as a bedrock of cultivation for so many instrumental math rock bands over the years, and you can add Electric Hawk to the list of Chicago instrumental bands to know, if you haven’t done so already. The power trio consisting of Mike Burns on guitar, Graham McLachlan on bass, and Noah Leger on drums, have grown by leaps and bounds since their 2011 eponymous debut album, and have created a muscular musical monster with Electric Hawk II. The music radiates a technical prowess that one should expect to hear from a band that first met each other while playing as the backing band for Blue Man Group, but one does not to possess a verbose musical knowledge to rock out to these songs.
The short intro song “Titanium Powerhang” perfectly sets up the beginning bass rumble of “Sex Embargo” which sounds like the perfect soundtrack for driving a motorcycle at high speed through the gates of Valhalla, and the song meanders along riff after riff vaguely sounding of World Class Listening Problem-era Don Caballero. The Don Cab influence could be traced to the fact that Noah Leger cut his teeth in the 1990’s playing drums in Damon Che’s “other band” The Speaking Canaries (Che played guitar and sang in the band and technically started a few months prior to the formation of Don Cab).
Songs like “Loud Pusher” and “Crystal Dojo” are relentless and hurdle riff after riff, with some of Leger’s drum fills sounding like they were recorded by throwing bowling balls down stairs because they pack a lot of weight and sound punishing against Burns and McLachlan’s interlocking guitar and bass riffs. The songs are very well-crafted and musically go in and out of areas that would sound at home on a Russian Circles orTown Portal album. “Jeff Beck’s Tour of Long Beach” is a real proggy treat half way through the album, and Burns’ main guitar part sounds like a long lost Alex Lifeson riff that would fit in nicely on any late 70’s, early 80’s Rush album.
It should be noted that the production on this album is absolutely stellar throughout. Andrew Schneider who recorded and mixed the album is no stranger to post-metal/math rock/experimental music having worked with bands ranging from Daughters, Pelican, Unsane, and Cave In, just to name a few. Electric Hawk delivered a solid album worthy of being mentioned among the ranks of Chicago’s instrumental elite such as Russian Circles and Pelican. As technical as some of the music gets, Electric Hawk knows how to keep the listener guessing while providing a simple formula – catchy riffs, thunderous bass, and pounding drums. I can’t wait to see what these guys come up with next.
Metal, instrumental, math rock, post-rock, prog, progressive metal
Sounds A Tad Like
Russian Circles, Body Hound, Town Portal, Don Caballero, Breadwinner