March 8, 2007

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Hidden Hand, The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote
Southern Lord Records, 2006

For a while there — mostly thanks to plodding mud-mongers St. Vitus and Sleep — it looked as though no new band was capable of taking on a real-world revival of the Black Sabbath trip. Vitus was a lucky gamble, playing fast and loose with SST Records’ cred (who were they supposed to tour with, Sonic Youth?), but in the end the band wasn’t a legitimate resurrection, just a stoner scrapbook of Marshall amps and Wino’s Ozzy impersonation. Not to get all hoity-toity about things — even if Sabbath could run down and hogtie the occasional 7/8 time signature, Kansas made them look like the Ramones — but let’s face it, headphones and headshops were invented for loftier things than frustrated surf-boys for whom pieces like “A National Acrobat” may as well be particle physics. Today you got your Don Caballeros who overdo it and your SunnO)))s who way, way underdo it, but progress doth march on down the middle, as Hidden Hand demonstrates in this stab at old-school doom. The dreary Vitus knockoffs “Purple Neon Dream” and “Someday Soon” open things up in unimpressive style but do give the sense that better things are to come, which they are, in particular “The Lesson,” which does Trouble proud, and the High On Fire-like “Dark Horizons.” B- Eric W. Saeger