Los Angeles quintet Here Lies Man made a stellar first impression with their self-titled debut album upon its release last year. Built upon two basic foundations; a love of Black Sabbath and an interest in Afrobeat, the result was an infectiously groovy selection of instrumental jams. The emphatic drum arrangements combined with fuzzy guitar tone produced a near hypnotic quality to its rhythm sections.
What really benefited the debut album was a contemporary production style, that accentuated specific beats and introduced colourful synth patches for that extra dose of psychedeliae. Needless to say, the group’s decision to abandon this production style for a more retro sound on second album ‘You Will Know Nothing’ feels like a step-back.
Naturally, Here Lies Man keep up the tight rhythmic approach to their songwriting. Opener ‘Animal Noises’ bobs up and down through compact melodies that recalls early Cream records. But once you get your head around that, there’s not a lot else to explore from these songs. Save for the occasional jazz piano sprinkle and some atmospheric soundscapes towards each track’s end.
There’s the occasional distorted bursts that brings out the Sabbath heaviness on tracks like ‘Blindness’ and ‘Hell (Wooly Tail)’, and fans of Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Era Vulgaris’ may appreciate the abstract garage rock of ‘Taking the Blame’ and ‘Fighting’, but there’s a formula to these tracks that HLM settle on too comfortably. As it progresses the album’s repetitiveness soon becomes less hypnotic and more grating.
A more upbeat production job might have saved this record, but the Dan Auerbach-esque sound of ‘You Will Know Nothing’ sucks out all the fun and energy that their debut thrived on. Here Lies Man have taken their creative force of psychedelic energy and turned it into background music.
‘You Will Know Nothing’ by Here Lies Man is out now on EasyRide Records.
Words by Andrew Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)