The Hidden Hand - The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote
Southern Lord
10 songs (43:10)
Release year: 2007
The Hidden Hand, Southern Lord
Reviewed by Goat

It was quite a disappointment to hear of The Hidden Hand’s break-up shortly after the release of this, the band’s third album. Scott “Wino” Weinrich is known for the brevity of his projects generally (The Hidden Hand was formed after his previous band, Spirit Caravan, split up) and it can make for a rather confusing record collection if you’re a fan of his psychedelia-tinged Doom. Fortunately, rumour is that the master of misery is working with other gloom-ridden artists, such as Om and Neurosis, and he’ll be back again another day. For the moment, however, The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote is a great (temporary) farewell!

Based loosely around the tale of a (fictional) runaway slave, part Native American, part Black, named Whiskey Foote, the album opens with two short introductory songs, the eerie preamble of Purple Neon Dream and the foreboding mini-drones of Someday Soon. It’s with the next track that things kick into high gear, however, the catchy and upbeat Dark Horizons, some excellent drum work from Evan Tanner giving a progressive tint to proceedings. Of course, Wino is as excellent as ever on guitar and vocals, a fuzzy Bluesy side to his riffs making the experience all the more special. The initially restrained Spiritually Bereft continues the quality, the song building up into an epic Doom masterpiece, with a wonderful solo from Wino.

The Lesson is undoubtedly the highlight of the album, taking in everything from group falsetto verses to some subtle yet effective Hammond organ. Even without that the song would still be excellent as there’s an especially catchy riff underpinning it, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. What’s remarkable throughout the listen is how involving the music is – many Doom bands relish their impenetrability, but with The Hidden Hand you’re going to get plenty of catchiness, and the likes of Majestic Presence is another reminder of that.

Towards the end of the album things take a much more experimental turn, from the title track’s laid-back southern rock that touches lyrically on Wino’s perennial revolutionary themes, to the even more rocking harmonica solos on Lightning Hill, which sounds like 80’s ZZ Top given a Metallic makeover. The intro to Broke Dog had me checking that I wasn’t listening to High On Fire, as it’s very similar to that band’s Devilution song, and it is surprisingly heavy, Wino’s tortured vocals taking a back seat to the distorted riffing. It’s the complex finale that grabbed me most, however, the seven-minute plus Slow Rain, a twisted journey that opens up partway through into a Proggy epic, much like the kind of thing that Mastodon has been doing recently. A drum solo and some eerie sounds provide a moment of downtime before the song comes back to life; some suitably technical instrumentation providing a wonderful outro to what has been an excellent forty minutes’ worth of Doom.

If there’s one criticism I had with the album, it’s that the experimental songwriting sometimes means that the flow of the album is interrupted in favour of some seemingly out-of-place guitar noises, which don’t always fit where they’re placed, but overall it’s a great album. Everyone that loves their Doom and is in search of an old-school-styled band that doesn’t rip Candlemass off will love this, whilst it’s a challenging introduction to the downtuned dominion for those that are looking for the best path in.

Killing Songs :
Purple Neon Dream, Dark Horizons, Spiritually Bereft, The Lesson, The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote, Lightning Hill, Slow Rain
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by The Hidden Hand that we have reviewed:
The Hidden Hand - Mother Teacher Destroyer reviewed by Alex and quoted 74 / 100
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