Hailing from San Francisco, California, Bryan Hill recently completed an album entitled II. It’s his second release in the last two years and contains a palette of tones and colors that resemble classic rock records made in the ’70s.
From the opening guitar riff on the first track “Rocket” the initial thing I noticed was that the guitar tone reminded me of Black Sabbath. Apparently I’m not the first. The crunchy distortion that lays in the mid range coupled with the riffs themselves made me think of Ozzy Osbourne and his cohorts. It’s a decent written song, not many complaints, but I couldn't but help notice the vocals seemed separated from the mix. Maybe that’s me but I prefer the vocals a bit more buried in the mix.
Interestingly enough this was the only song I felt this way about. The second track “Fire & Gold” veers away from the Black Sabbath vibe and instead reminded of the song “Turn The Page.” It has a southern swagger back door whiskey feel. Hill delivers a solid vocal performance here and I liked the way his vocals were treated. Especially the harmonies he implemented during the chorus.
“Glow” acts like an instrumental interlude that revolves around gritty distortion and a guitar solo. Short and sweet. “Chrysalis” reverts to the Sabbath/Spinal Tap style and mixes things up by not having the distortion on the whole time. He closes with “Slide,” which was the highlight of the album. I thought Hill sounded his most original here, had his best vocal melodies and I thought the instrumental parts were effective. It is a good way to end the album.
II does not sound contemporary in any sense of the word but that’s fine by me. The EP has a number of flaws but overall it delivers. Hill seems to be on a creative purge so we might be hearing more from him soon.
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