The Hidden Hand – The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote – Review

thehiddenhand200The Hidden Hand

The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote (Southern Lord)
by Brian Varney

Generally speaking, I don’t give a shit about the lyrics when I’m listening to music. I mean, yeah, there are some folks whose lyrics I enjoy, but those are the rare folks who are classic storytellers, the folks who can tell a story in a way that’s concise, often funny, and clever in a non-egghead way. Folks like Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, Jerry Reed, and, to name a couple of modern folks, Blag Dahlia, and Eddie Spaghetti. I tell you this for no other reason than to clarify the fact that the lyrics are not the reason I dislike The Hidden Hand.

Scott “Wino” Weinrich has been around underground doom-metal circles for awhile. As leader of The Obsessed, singer for St. Vitus, and main engine for Spirit Caravan and now The Hidden Hand, he’s the object of many an underground geekboy’s fantasy, and with good reason. He’s a jaw-dropping guitar player, and when he puts his mind to it, he can create quite the compelling song. Spirit Caravan was a big deal for me, so when The Hidden Hand sprung up almost immediately in the wake of SC’s demise, I awaited their maiden release with anxious anticipation.

Although I will admit to an amount of apprehension, I was not totally put off by Wino’s apparent descent into conspiracy theory insanity, as evidenced by the recommended reading list (!!!) that accompanied the band’s debut release, which included David Icke (for those not keeping score, this is the guy who thinks the British Royal Family are really human-size lizards in disguise or something). However, the fact that the music felt similarly listless and uninspired is what turned me off, or so I like to think.

Anyway, it’s now a couple of albums later (The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote is the band’s third full-length, and a couple of EPs have been released as well), and a free promo copy arriving in the mail seemed as good an excuse as any to give the band another shot. After all, I’m constantly returning to music I’ve previously dismissed, and I’m not above admitting I was wrong (although, luckily enough, this has never, ever happened in my entire life). This does sound a bit better than the earlier stuff, but at the same time, it ain’t gonna replace Spirit Caravan on my shelves, y’know? The melodies that made Spirit Caravan stick in my head just aren’t here, and the individual tracks, which remind me of the parts from the live Cream albums just before they launched into the boring, interminable solos, just don’t strike any sort of emotional chord with me. I can’t really say why, but I don’t think it’s the lyrics.