These Sasquatch-obsessed metalheads are based in sunny Los Angeles rather than the wilds of some wintry country and that is, indeed, rather baffling. Only a mug would believe these songs were written on the beach and their PR blurb leads me to think I’m probably right, labelling them as “the band that turned their backs on their Hollywood homes”. Naturally, there’s still a tendency to assume this monstering about is just all a gimmick to garner attention but the band stick to their subject with dedication and go about their frightful task with plenty of enthusiasm.
They switch between referring to the beast himself in both the third-person (to great effect) and the first-person, and manage to ramp up the tension by digging up and relaying the fables that follow the sightings. There are plaintive roars, chunky riffs and barked lyrics like “Nothing human could be that fast / Was it the monster that crossed the path?” (from the bludgeoning opener “Deep Creek”), “Don’t turn around!” and “He’s come back to take what’s his (your head)” (from the stoner riff worship of “Axe Murder Hollow”) or “Fee-fi-fo-fum / I smell the blood of everyone” (from the pounding thrasher “Suicide Woods”).
The switch up from shoulder-roll to chugfest, which (when you think about it) was always going to lead inexorably towards a wholesome, fist-pumping groove, is magnetic. By hook or by crook, the source of their mojo lies somewhere between the balls-out, whisky-swigging, rock-a-doodle doo antics of Hellyeah, the stoned Southern wallowing of Down, the malignant metalcore of Unearth and the monstrous sludge that Eyehategod sling about.
When they’re not swinging on the lighter, grungier choruses of “When The Sky Falls” and “I Am Wendigod” (presumably they are there as a tool to shuffle the pack), they are digging down into your most primal of fears by mixing in a few meaningful samples, including the spookiest of cinematic scenes across “The Weak And Wounded…” or slowing the pace for its soul-mate “After The Great Fire”. Those cleaner vocals do give the album added dimension, yet, as they stand, they detract from the overal impact. Listen to the opposing vocal forces within “Bloodguilt” (trying to marry Connor Garritty’s impressive, unhinged roars to anything else must be an impossible task), or even the subject matter of “Ruby Ridge…” though and suddenly you’ll realise they are more than just a one-dimensional, flash-in-the-pan act.
They still manage to grasp hold of that combination of morbid fascination and crushing fear, those emotions which walk hand-in-hand with the unknown, by beginning and ending fast and hard. However, for a while, they lose it mid-album, finding that fight-or-flight pressure point slipping through their fingers. This is a debut, remember, so I’d imagine that they still have plenty left in the tank; bigger fish to fry, as it were, than we’ve heard so far, and they have plenty of time left to iron out those creases (like that bizarre, interminable and frankly ludicrous 15-minute swamp and campfire loop at the end of “Jesus Cradle”). Do keep your eyes peeled for All Hail The Yeti – they have the talent to stick around like the tales of the mystical creature they so idolise.
(7/10 John Skibeat)