Shadyhawk formed in 2014 but their music doesn’t sound like much popular rock that came out in 2016. It has some attitude like rock should have in my opinion. Alright so maybe these guys grew up in a time when rock had more grit and it rubbed off on them.
There is a dirty southern vibe within the music and you can make a case for grunge as well on their release Portraits of Strangers which is an interesting combo that works surprisingly well together. Truth be told the band isn’t making up a brand of rock that sounds new. They have a familiar sound. That being said they deliver the goods.
At ten songs the album is at in my opinion a perfect length. It’s really the sweet spot as long as you don't have ten-minute songs. They start things off the intense “Sinner's Grin.” This is a good way to start off a rock album. The riff is crunchy; there is slide guitar and you can clearly hear that ride cymbal. This is just a rock song - no sub genre label needed.
“Portraits of Strangers” has a little more southern flavor. It might have benefited from a bit more cowbell if you know what I mean. Nice groove and distinctive vocal melody. They keep the rocking to a minimum on “Forgotten Girl” which is a little more heartfelt. A bit of ’80’s ballad vibe on the chorus. I liked it.
We go up a decade on “Under The Moon.” The drumming pattern alone feels reminiscent of something you might hear from a band like Alice In Chains or Soundgarden. That being said the chorus is a little too optimistic and hopeful sounding to be labeled grunge. The structure is a bit odd. On the verse they sound like a classic ’90s grunge band but they sound more akin to the early 2000’s transplants like Creed on the chorus.
“The Queen” is another straightforward rock song while “All That It Takes” is one of the highlights amongst the batch. They close with a southern burner aptly titled “Burnout.” Good way to end. Portraits of Strangers is a bit of a tip of the hat to other eras in music but Shadyhawk still has their own take on it.
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