Off the Beaten Track with Mary Leary: Ape Machine; Lord Howler

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Once this music starts, I’m a puppet on a string: Spasmodically jerking my head and doing the happy metal grimace; unable to resist rising from my seat to shake it to the hard rock Ape Machine’s making in Portland, Oregon… blowing my speakers out, this minute, courtesy of the band’s first full-length: War to Head.

It’s not like the subject matter or lyrics (“Hold Your Tongue,” for instance, is about governmental lies and the fucked-upedness of war) are particularly new. If you took Ape Machine apart and examined its bits, it wouldn’t sound new either, at least on paper. But the joyful noize currently annoying my neighbors returns to all things eternally and appropriately hard rock. Apparently, we’ve moved far enough away from the original sources for a new generation of players to reference Deep Purple and Black Sabbath without embarrassment. Suddenly, after a couple decades of being that stuff your uncle still blasted in his garage, and those “ignorami” in the boonies had never stopped playing, the hard rock that morphed into metal is, again, cool.

Well, I’ve never given a shake for trends.  Nor would I be a puppet for this stuff if it weren’t k-i-c-k ASS. Caleb Heinze emotes with clarion fluidity, the keyboards, when used (especially on “What’s Up Stanley,” which seems to be a Purple homage) channel Jon Lord’s, and Ian Watts peels out exquisitely simple lines. None of which would matter to me if the songs weren’t there to justify all that energy.

If this review’s got you hankering for some LOCAL stoner/hard/metallic rock, Lord Howler has purportedly been slamming out a new album. Meanwhile, here’s one from LH at Bar Eleven:

Ape Machine:
Lord Howler: howler
Eleven Bar:

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