The Hicks – Vibration of Sound
On their third album Vibration of Sound, Wigan three piece The Hicks have successfully thrown elements of stoner, hard rock, metal and reggae (yes, reggae) and a whole load of other good shit into a melting pot to create a thinking man’s masterpiece, setting the bar high for other bands of their ilk in the process.
Anyone who has been following the North West’s burgeoning stoner/doom scene over the past few years will undoubtedly recognise the gravelly vibrato of singer Alex Hurst from his other band Boss Keloid but on this record he proves he can hold his own as a guitar player as well as chief bellower. Some of the jagged riffs on tracks such as 100mph Suicide and Prove You Wrong even suggest that Mr Hurst may have had a hand in writing some of the choice cuts on Boss Keloid’s first record The Calming Influence of Teeth as there are definite similarities in their off-kilter delivery.
That said, The Hicks are still a completely different beast altogether and here Hurst and co. trade in the twisted polyrhythms for a much more groove oriented approach. Opener Insane Encounter is an acoustic led campfire jam, which gives way into the aforementioned ode to dangerous driving and the Kyuss-esque wallop of The Quest.
The title track is where things really start to get interesting though, as it introduces the band’s loved for heady, green fingered reggae vibes, a motif which runs throughout the album from here on in. Whereas the track Vibration of Sound is a straight up, blissed out reggae tune that celebrates the power of music itself – “What’s life if we ain’t got music?” asks Hurst – it’s on Pass It On where the band start to really show off their skills in blending their influences. It begins with a dark, throbbing, suite of head banging riffs that would sit nicely on any Down album, which eventually give way to delay laden stabs of reggae chords.
As Vibration of Sound reaches its half way point, the doors have now been blown open for the band to wear all their influences on their sleeve with pride, without ever sounding like copycats. There’s sublime worship on the dub-style Mr Diamond, bluesy Clutch riffage on For What Reason and hints towards Dark Side of The Moon era Pink Floyd on Prove You Wrong. But it’s the deftness, originality and above all, the ear for a good tune with which they blend all these familiar elements to create something interesting and unique that sets them apart from their peers.
This is none more present on the drugged up desert jam of closer, Waves of Azores, which takes Zeppelin style acoustic guitars, Doors style psychedelia and even a vocal solo that’s not too dissimilar from the one on Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up and pins it all to an incessant, tribal groove. You can’t help but be swept away to a higher realm.
To paraphrase the comedian from whom these pie eaters get their name: “Today, a young man [listening to The Hicks] realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration – that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are an imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”
Words: Adam Robertshaw
You can stream the album for free on their Bandcamp page here: https://thehicks1.bandcamp.com/album/vibration-of-sound