The Hidden Hand - Mother Teacher Destroyer
Southern Lord
Doom/Stoner Rock
11 songs (48'02")
Release year: 2004
The Hidden Hand, Southern Lord
Reviewed by Alex

I was once at the party where I got into a debate about Black Sabbath relevance with another metalhead. The debate turned pretty heated (too much alcohol was definitely a factor). My opponent was trying to convince me that old Black Sabbath is boring and irrelevant. Even though not a huge fan of the Ozzy era (I myself prefer Dio and Tony Martin periods, in that order) I was trying to convince this guy of the Sabbath relevance and influential nature. Where would doom metal be if not for Black Sabbath? Would there even be doom metal? But if you are not into doom at all, would you care at all? I guess I could see the other side of that argument to some degree.

What does all this has to do with The Hidden Hand? Mother Teacher Destroyer is another reminder of how influential early 70s Black Sabbath really was. Also, it sees the legend of Maryland doom scene Scott “Wino” Weinrich (St. Vitus, Place of Skulls, Spirit Caravan) return in fine guitar form. As Spirit Caravan broke apart Wino got together with Bruce Falkinburg (bass) and Dave Hennessy (drums) and The Hidden Hand was formed in 2002. Little noticed Divine Propaganda release on Meteor City Records, and a couple of songs on various compilations plus 7”, I believe Mother Teacher Destroyer is the band’s second album.

The Hidden Hand plays doom for those who think it has to be wacky, shapeless and earthcrushingly heavy, and all with clean vocals. There is no funeral or death element in their music; instead, there are atmospheric and acoustic passages in the album. This is no doubt old school where his majesty the almighty riff has to be heavier than the elephant’s ass, and amps have to continue reverberating it at the very edge of their abilities. Such is the opener The Crossing and Travesty as Usual which would have been a monster hit if Iron Man wasn’t released so many years ago. As earthly and twangy as the sound of Wino’s guitar is, it feels fat, as if every string was the size of a man’s finger, and warm at the same time (Currents, Magdalene). Together with Falkinburg’s bass the guys embark on a number of distorted crazy jams (the end of The Crossing>, Draco Vibration). Generally slow in tempo, Sons of Kings stretches it out even further with an unbelievable guitar and drum solo overlap towards the end. As I mentioned above the band includes acoustic (Half Mast) and atmospheric, mystic (Black Ribbon) elements and these parts are probably the most melodic, yet the production does not lose the doom trademark fuzz when The Hidden Hand allows itself some melody. The instrumental closer The Deprogramming of Tom Delay (can it even be done?) sees the band being totally experimental with the ear slapping electronics emulating taking off spaceship, fizzy guitar and beating bass drums.

Wino’s leads can be both dissonant (The Crossing) and harmonious (Coffin Lily) as he is not afraid of being obtuse and complicated. There is something Hendrixian in his guitar work when the guitarist extracts both passionate and convoluted wahwahs from his instrument.

It feels as though the vocals come from at least two band members, and for the life of me I can’t tell you who is doing what. All vocals are clean though, with some songs having a definite claustrophobic feeling (Black Ribbon). On others, (Travesty as Usual) singing does bear an undeniable Osbourne shade. The vocals on the album, however, are far from being at the center of attention, even though the lyrics are meaningful and political themes oriented. Combined with the all around fuzzy production, the vocals bring Mother Teacher Destroyer that doom/stoner feel American doom is famous for.

This album is not for everybody. My adversary from the party would not have lasted two tracks. Mother Teacher Destroyer is purely generational. If you were around to see how it all started, and are willing to spin The Hidden Hand a few times it will grow on you. More likely than not, the album will become a cult piece in its scene, but it does not have a transcendental, all encompassing value to reach out to those on the outside still not looking deep into doom. However, if Trouble or Solitude Aeternus were something you ever enjoyed, you must get this.

Killing Songs :
Half Mast, Black Ribbon, Magdalene, Travesty As Usual, Sons of Kings
Alex quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by The Hidden Hand that we have reviewed:
The Hidden Hand - The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
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