The Heavy Guilt is as much Americana as it is avant garde garage, as much folk blues as it is psychedelic indie stomp. It is six focused musicians, from varying backgrounds, translating their influences into a common language beneath the dim crimson lights of the stage. It is a sweaty driving catharsis, a train of thought bulldozing cross the tracks of rural America, it is a roadmap through the emotive wilderness, it is a collage put together by time worn hands, it is the sound and rhythm of a saturated city, it is the direction you take after last call. The Heavy Guilt is rock n roll.
Born two years ago, the Guilt has progressed since their debut, Lift Us Up from This. The first album is a document of the band member's initial meeting, having subtle conversations through sound, getting acquainted through song. The second album, In the Blood, captures two years of performing together. Not so much a handshake introduction, but a kick to the sternum.
The songs from the first album had a campfire feel to them, warm as the pops and crackles of old vinyl. In the Blood is born from the dive bar. It isn't lacking of these quiet movements, but it balances them with foot stomping blues, fevered crescendos and tasteful experimentation. The songs are dynamic, going from acoustic whispers to mountainous walls of sound. Sean Martin, takes his jazz virtuosity and transposes it to rock fury, taking songs to new pinnacles and beyond. Josh Rice adds vintage keyboard tones from soul's greatest years, bringing flurries of Fender Rhodes and Hammond swells to the mix. Layers and layers of nuanced keys add to the dynamic of these songs, plus Josh's unique approach to songwriting is heard throughout. Jason Littlefield provides the anchor of rhythm that holds these songs together, he's heard here on basses, electric and acoustic, including some incredible bowed upright work.
Jason's background in jazz and classical can be heard in the arrangements, his melodic and fluid playing blends into a perfectly subtle treatment of each song, when it grabs your ear it can be catchy as a chorus, yet, though he is able, his playing is never flashy nor over the top, it is exactly what the song is needing.Similarly Jenny Merullo provides the pulse of necessity, she is a driving rock n roll drummer and has transformed the dynamic of this band more than any factor since her joining. She was the youthful caffeine to inspire the band's new sound. She also adds endearing and warm harmonies to the songs.
Alfred Howard is the wild card, he adds new, unusual and untamed sounds to the band's traditional lineup. He is a volcanic pocket of contagious energy on stage. He plays found objects like chains, wooden boxes, bottle caps, bells, a shortwave and circuit bent radio, sheet metal, boxes of rice and sand paper, he may be riffling through your dumpster or haggling at your yardsale right now. He is also the source of the albums lyrics, poetic, heartfelt and moving, winding descriptions of love, lack, hope and longing. And most important to the sound of this band is Erik Canzona. With his old soul road weary and powerful voice, he is the first ingredient that pulls you in while listening. His voice inspires the band to sculpt the perfect bed of sound to try to contain it, it is that of a storyteller who grabs ear and demands attention, it can be delicate, fragile and volatile or it can be a thunderous tempest. The forceful gust of wind he exhales silences audiences and creates hypnotized and muted members of previously chatty Friday night bars. All this while providing a strong rhythm guitar, the solid canvas for the other members to paint on.
The band has matured, learned how to hold an audience captive and braided their influences into their own brand of unrelenting soulful rock music.