Drug Honkey – Cloak of Skies Album Review

Staying under the radar, Drug Honkey has been releasing its brew of experimental doom/death since the early ’00s, putting out records independently, until 2012’s Ghost In The Fire was released by Diabolical Conquest Records. Today, they are trying to escape obscurity releasing their newest album, Cloak of Skies, through Transcending Obscurity (no pun intended) records.

At first listen, Cloak of Skies appears like a sludge record. Its pace is slow, the riffs are filled with layers of dirt and a gritty sense of purpose. And there is a lot of influence from sludge when it comes to the structure of the songs, the primitive hardcore-esque inclusions and the vocal delivery, combined with that familiar monstrous groove. In other words, the first thought that you will have is that this is a sickening, swampy sludge record. But a closer look reveals that there is more of the doom/death quality in there than the first listen allows you to hear. This is an album that stretches the death manifestation to its limits, introducing doom elements that have more weight, while the experimental tendencies grant a unique element to Drug Honkey’s tone.

 

 

An old question regarding the use of effects in metal bands might come into question. Are effects really necessary? Are they being overused? Purists might say that you do not need much more than your basic instruments to craft a good track, and to a degree that is correct. If you cannot structure your compositions, create a narrative and present it, then no matter how many processing units you throw in, the results will be terrible. But effects can expand the sound of a band, allowing the instruments to acquire uncommon characteristics, expand the dimensions they are exploring.

The use of effects from Drug Honkey is heavy, and is absolutely essential for what they are doing. The heavy parts of doom/death glory are augmented, their destructive path more vividly depicted, the howling echoes bringing a hellish perspective. But it is not just the heavier parts that gain from this mentality, but also the more “atmospheric” moments. Cloak of Skies pulls the band down various psychedelic sub-categories, from the surrealistic to the dystopian, achieved through an impeccable application of synths, noise generation, feedback loops, all aimed to make this opioid dream reality.

Drug Honkey takes step towards this experimental realm, not only in terms of the use of effects, but also with the addition of some, very appropriate guest additions. On one hand you have Bruce Lamont (of Yakuza and Corrections House) bringing in his magnificent sax playing, adding free-jazz moments of frenzy when chaos reigns, and moody renditions on the more minimal pathways. On the other side, the great Justin K. Broadrick delivers a sickening remix of the opening track “Pool of Failure” revealing the deep connection of the band’s sound to the early Godflesh visions. It all works in creating a melting pot of a record, where the doom/death appearance undergoes a drastic, necessary change. If Cloak of the Skies doesn’t provide the escape from obscurity that Drug Honkey is seeking, I do not know what will.

 

 

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The Author

Spyros

Spyros

Sound engineer, sonic manipulator, record hunter and writer/contributor for a variety of webzines.

  • Excellent review and captures the essence quite well. Prime hallucinightmares await for all who listen

  • Hey Lou! A band called Drug Honkey

  • Drug Honkey’s musical evolution is monumental in scope. They truly encapsulate everything great about the often unheralded Chicago underground. I’ve been listening to them since the early 2000’s, and each album has surpassed its predecessor in regards to musical creativity, confidence, and experimentation. Even from a thematic viewpoint, the doomscape narratives -always delivered with bone crushing intensity – are expressed with surprising clarity.

    Seriously, if you dig experimental doom or if like your coffee blacker than Dante’s, Ninth Circle of Hell; you are doing yourself a grave injustice by not giving this anomalous masterpiece a chance.

  • Thank you so much for this EXCELLENT review! Cheers from Transcending Obscurity Records!

  • Fantastic review. Thank you.

  • Paul Gillis

  • Sounds PERFECT