The sun was halfway through its long descent down a cloudless sky. Thanks to this small miracle, the sweltering heat of the day was slowly melting away. I sat atop my horse, silently watching as newly lit oil lamps began providing illumination to chase the imposing darkness from storefront windows along the town’s main drag. For one fleeting moment, I was at peace with the world. But then the ever present weight of the badge pinned to my vest once again pulled me back to my sobering reality, and the duties that went along with it.
Being a sheriff can be very rewarding, but more often than not it’s a foolhardy, treacherous affair that is entirely too hazardous for one’s health. Since I chose to become the Sheriff here four months ago, I’ve narrowly escaped death and dismemberment too many times to count. Unfortunately it seems that only the worst, most brazen criminals make their way out to our little slice of heaven (or hell depending on your viewpoint). And when it comes right down to it, my six-shooter and I are the only ones standing between them and outright anarchy. I may not always like what I do, but by god, someone has to stand up to these brigands!
Earlier today a man visited my jailhouse with information concerning the worst outlaw currently terrorizing the plains. He told me that none other than The Fiend himself would be arriving in town this afternoon on the four o’ clock train. We’re talking about the highwayman who singlehandedly robbed over seventy armed coaches this year alone. We’re talking about the bandit who has evaded capture for over three and a half years. We’re talking about the legendary outlaw who folks say doesn’t have a face! Why was he coming to my town? What could he possibly want here? The informant had no answers, but we were both sure of one thing. Whatever brought The Fiend our way, it was best to assume that he would be up to no good after he arrived.
Throughout my admittedly brief run as sheriff, this particular informant had proven himself trustworthy. On several occasions he offered up solid intelligence which never failed to pan out, so I had no doubt as to the authenticity of his current claim. Thinking critically on the situation, my main problem would be identifying The Fiend once he was inside my jurisdiction. There would be at least a handful of people disembarking from the train. That was certain. What was also certain was that I had nothing to compare these people to.
Descriptions of The Fiend were as varied as they were plentiful. Height, weight, nationality, accented speech, clothing. Each victim provided information which conflicted with previous witness statements. Conflicting outside of one important detail that is. Whether it was due to some kind of deformity or the use of an elaborate mask, The Fiend had no facial features. Where a mouth, chin, and nose would normally be there was only a featureless, flesh tone surface.
Okay, back to present day. When I say the name Brent Hinds to all of you waveriders out there, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Wait…don’t tell me. Let me take a few guesses. I’ll bet that more than a few of you happen to be Mastodon fans (like me). Since that’s the case, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that name instantly brings a wide smile to your face as you recall some great metal you’ve listened to over the years. If however you’re not one of those fans, you still might know Mr. Hinds. You might recognize his rather unique visage, what with his wild red hair and beard, or the tattoo running up his forehead. My point is that even though you might not think you know who Brent Hinds is, you stand a good chance of recognizing either him or his work.
Now I want you to take all of those memories, good or bad, and eliminate them from your mental database. That’s right! Banish them to the recycle bin, empty it, and then reformat your brain. Trust me. You’re better off coming at this new music with a clean slate. So are we good? Yes? Okay then. Hello there waveriders. I’d like to introduce you to a guitarist by the name of Brent Hinds. If you see a photo of this man, you’ll not soon forget him thanks to his wild red hair and beard, as well as the tattoo running up his forehead. The real reason Mr. Hinds will stick in your mind however, is his fantastic guitar work and distinctive vocals spread across every track of the debut album from Fiend Without A Face.
Waveriders, if you need something different to break up your listening habits, boy do I have an album for you! Fiend Without A Face will grab hold of you with a wonderful combination of rockabilly, surf-rock, a heaping helping of metal, and maybe a little bit of psychedelics thrown in for good measure. No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. You read that correctly. What we have here is a rockabilly, surf-rock, metal outfit that is determined to make quite a ruckus, and boy do they ever! Open the doors to your mind’s pleasure center because this music is going to buzz your tower at excessive speeds, and you’re going to enjoy every moment of this circus stunt flyby.
Opening track, “Calypso”, sets off the proceedings nicely with vocals and instruments working in note for note unison to build listener expectations before they launch into the frenetic rockabilly/metal main portion of the song. This track in effect mirrors the diversity of this album. Some songs like “Black Grass”, “New York”, and “Stupido” stay close to a traditional rockabilly template. Others such as “Green Slime”, “Tsunami”, and “Get Straight” lie wholly in the surf-rock camp. Throw in more metallic fair like “Don’t Like”, something totally off the wall like the Mr. Bungle-esque “Cosmonaut”, and the punk infused “Hot Rod”, and now we’re really talking! Another very impressive aspect to this album is how effortlessly Mr. Hinds switches singing styles to fit each song; often multiple times for different movements of the same song. He demonstrates fantastic versatility, and his vocal contributions add tremendously to the overall musical atmosphere.
So there you have it waveriders. We’re officially rewriting the book on Brent Hinds. You know what, scratch that. We’re not rewriting the book. No! We’re starting a new book which will prove to be just as interesting as the one that preceded it. Besides, wait till I tell you about West End Motel. If you think Fiend Without A Face was waaaaay too different, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.
Buy here: Fiend Without a Face & West End Motel
Buy here mp3: Fiend Without A Face/West End Motel: Don't Shiver, You're A Winner