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king giantThose that dig southern-influenced metal with a healthy dose of groove tend to stick with a handful of bands that always pop up in conversation (Down, CoC, etc), seldom finding anything truly new to get excited about. On SOUTHERN DARKNESS (self-released just over a year ago), those ears have a new band to dig, and they go by the name of KING GIANT.

Flying under the radar of most (myself included) until the release of their video for “13 to 1” last month, the Virginia band has a lot in common with many of the artists they’ve played with and been inspired by. Think of them as the Harley-riding distant cousins of CLUTCH by way of KYUSS.

Opening the record with “Solace” will only bring you comfort if that you seek is of the sludge variety. The heavy groove is defined as the band enters “Burning Regrets” and rolls into the previously mentioned “13 to 1.” “Potters Field” bears a funk of the Clutch variety, as SOUTHERN DARKNESS more than lives up to it’s name.

There’s something slightly unsettling about the bass rumble that starts “Machine Gun Mantra,” which sets up the very-SABBATH riffage that follows. With 11 songs clocking in just shy of an hour, most bands would be reaching “filler” territory at this length, but King Giant continues delivering low-end punches to the gut like “Hollow” and “Desert Run.”

While you can hear various influences emerge throughout the album (even a slight Danzig-esque quality to the vocals at times), King Giant definitely stands on their own as a band that adds to the genre. With their second full-length being prepped for a 2011 release, I’m happy to say that I’ll be one of the first in-line to check it out.

Rating: 4/5

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