Them Howling Bones // S/T
Recommended Track: Howling Man
There are some who believe that true rock n’ roll is dead. I often wonder, as classic rock becomes more antiquated, will its significance be lost on younger generations? The time has arrived when Led Zeppelin, the Doors and the Rolling Stones are those bands your lame parents listened to but you happened to see their logo on a crop-top at Forever 21 so they’re actually pretty cool, right? Are the souls of rock gods actually being recognized or merely put on display without any substance? I don’t want to believe the latter. I want to believe that these bands will forever be the mecca from which most rock springs to life, the blood that flows through its musical veins. I, for one, am stoked when a current band takes the genius of their predecessors and injects it into their own style. When I first dived into Them Howling Bones, a band birthed out of a spontaneous cover performance of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” that is exactly what I was anticipating.
The band’s self-titled EP is an interesting first attempt at showcasing what the forefathers of rock created and it revels in that old time rock n’ roll aesthetic. “Howling Man” really stood out as a softer yet still epic ballad that alluded to Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. Even though it’s almost blasphemous to compare the two—okay it is blasphemous to compare the two—their efforts should not go unnoticed. Big guitar riffs and even bigger raspy vocals howl and dip up and down into a lucid rhythmic stream. The song is by far the crème of the crop, dripping with melancholy, the kind that makes you feel good for wanting to feel so bad.
“Luci” introduced a completely different vibe to the EP that doesn’t seem to entirely meld with the rest of it. It has a fast-paced psycho-billy feel that, while not unwarranted, is unexpected. Transitioning from Led Zeppelin to Los Gatos Locos in a 5-song EP is not an easy adjustment. Both classic rock and psycho-billy have similar bluesy roots that can potentially link together but it’s a bit of stretch. There are ways to pick up the pace while maintaining the same mood, à la “Immigrant Song”. Although the EP desperately needs something more upbeat, “Luci” took a completely different route that could have been done without. It’s exclusion would have made for a more cohesive EP.
It can be difficult to gauge a band’s full capability off a 5-song EP, and as much as Them Howling Bones’ are competent, they lack the natural eloquence that made The Doors, Cream and Led Zeppelin who they were – who they remain. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of these spirits being reincarnated and that’s what can be so intriguing—not necessarily the songs themselves. When I listen to Them Howling Bones I hear the croons of the late greats and it makes me crave their sounds not their imitators. They’ve got the right inspirations, but now it’s just up to them to Break On Through To The Other Side or face the arduous fall off the Stairway to Heaven.