Keelhaul II

Keelhaul are an anomaly in the world of aggressive music, a band whose sum is greater than their disparate parts and one of the few bright spots for innovative music that defies strict genre categorisation. Keelhaul seem to possess no direct affiliation, yet retains elements of many aggressive staples. After an excellent debut on Escape Artist Records, these Cleveland-based sonic architects return with II , an album that builds upon, refines and surpasses every aspect of their debut, in the process giving clarity to the oft overused word heavy like only bands such as Neurosis and Isis have been able to do. Keelhaul are unquestionably heavy, akin to the gravitational pull of a collapsed star level of density, possessed of a sound that is equal parts cycling doom-laden dirge (Neurosis), complicated technical exploration (Coalesce), noise rock abrasion (Unsane) and Southern blues meandering (Eyehategod), interspersed with melodic leads and moments of vocal hostility incorporated, not as an afterthought, but almost as a sporadic guide, serving to let the listener orient themselves before Keelhaul's sonic tidal wave once again impacts, threatening to drown the unwary. However, in Keelhaul's hands, these discernible characteristics become unequivocally Keelhaul in their translation. "360," "New Void" and "LWM" best demonstrate Keelhaul's commitment to sonic supremacy, but II is a record that at 34 minutes in eight songs lasts just long enough to leave the listener wanting more, as all good albums should. Keelhaul have thrown down the gauntlet with II, easily one of the heaviest records of the year. (Hydra Head)