Two Headed Beast – Wizard Mountain – Show and CD Review
By: Susan Dusse
Wizard Mountain was technically released in February of this year, but officially celebrated last week in an epic show. I heard the advanced demo in late 2016, when Singer Brian Allen let me accompany him to the Dark Tranquility show. He picked me up and as we drove to the venue, he played a few unmastered songs off of Wizard Mountain. He then switched to the new Watain. Now, I love Watain, but I made him put Two Headed Beast back on. Soon thereafter, he gifted me an official copy of Wizard Mountain, and it has been in my car for over six months, and on rotation with Gojira’s Magma. While I have lost the jewel case, and the CD is now a bit scratched…it is familiar, like an old friend. So, to see Two-Headed Beast live…. well, it was comforting and invigorating.
The show, held at the Portland favorite, Rock Hard PDX, was one of my favorites to date. It was a rainy, blustery night, but we showed up in force. Starting off the night was Tacoma favorites, Sons of Mercury.
I arrived early, and had a quick dinner prepared by the master chef, Christopher Richardson. I sat and chatted with Vicious Rumors/Two Headed Beast Singer Brian Allen, and Chronological Injustice’s manager, Darrell Richardson. As we were eating, in walked a man I wasn’t familiar with. He was talkative, and really nice, and we shared dinner and talked reptiles. It turned out that he was Sons of Mercury’s fill in guitarist James Nelson, who is a rock star in his own rite.
I ventured to the front to secure a spot to see the Tacoma neighbors, not sure what I’d hear, but always ready to check it out….AND THEY BLEW ME AWAY. Their seriously polished perfected tributes to Dio, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest were totally incredible. They were fun to watch, and their interpretation was reminiscent of being back in the 80s, seeing our beloved bands live. They kept true to the music, and were a delight.
Up next was Two Headed Beast. After all, it was their CD release party…It was their night. First of all, you’d think it might be a weird combo…sludgy, stoner rock in the vein of Red Fang and Orange Goblin, blended with this stand out singer, who has mastered the vocal kings of the 80s, but it’s not weird at all. It’s actually ridiculously awesome. Allen pranced on stage with a Cheshire cat grin, and the smoothness and comfort of a veteran arena vocalist. Guitarist Scott Speelman stood low key and cool. Shawn Ferguson, with eyes full of passion, laid down the fuzzy, sludgy guitar grove. John Hughes pounded on the bass (complete with an outfit straight out of Deliverance,) and rounding out the band was Jason Dunn on drums. All five talented musicians share a vision not realized by many, but certainly a vision that is pleasing to the eyes and ears.
Allen toyed with the crowd, and didn’t miss a note in his ambitious set. He taunted the crowd, calling them “fuuhhhh kers” and bending down to his knees a he hit that special note that only a few can hit. When he indicated there was one more song left…I was actually really disappointed. They are refreshing, yet tried and true, with an inspirational sound that will be hard for anyone to dislike.
Following these two amazing bands was the young and very talented Chronological Injustice. Guitarist Gunnar DüGrey, also guitarist for Vicious Rumors with Allen, was top-notch as always. Having returned from his first tour in Europe with Vicious Rumors this summer, he came to the show with an even more-polished persona. It is obvious he is now a veteran professional musician in the truest sense. He is modest and appropriate, gracious and friendly, and I have no doubt will always be that way even when he is considered among the elite, which will no doubt happen soon. James Sumner throws down like no one, Alex McDonald is a solid, great drummer, Gabriel Wright…always sturdy on bass, and Cody Green adding to the full and technical guitars.
It was a night of rain, darkness, new friends and old…and a great variety of music. Catch any of these bands and you’ll not be disappointed.
Now, Two Headed Beast’s CD review. I have to say…It is so familiar to me, because I’ve had it for so long that the underside is worn almost thin. I almost can’t distinguish one song from the other…. it’s a blended one-trip experience for me.
Valley of Skulls. This song is just plain catchy and infectious. Its slow groove will penetrate you, and you’ll remember the song for a long, long time.
Two Ton Sky. Well, it’s a sexy song. I don’t know what the lyrics are, but the song exudes sex.
Wizard Mountain. It’s the title track. It’s simple but effective. Another infectious groove and Allen’s sinister laugh…well, it’s sinister.
Apollyon the Destroyer. It’s the longest track at almost five minutes, is similar in style and sound to old Corrosion of Conformity, but made exclusively Two Headed Beast.
Hail to the Chief. The song has a fast pace and built in history lesson. Ask Allen about this song sometimes, and you’ll get a very thorough history lesson. The lyrics are pulled straight from quotes from the American President. I received a call from him (Allen, not the deceased president) on my drive home after the show. We met up for coffee and had a nice chat about the night. The lyrics in this song are historical, and Brian’s “smarts” about the mentioned Chief are impressive.
Boneyard. Another slow sludgy seductive groove; another great song.
Blackball. When the guitars can’t go any lower, Allen’s voice goes higher. It’s a great showcase of talent in this song.
Curse of the White Owl. It packs a serious groove… and it’s one of my favorite songs.
Tail of the Owl. It’s the shortest song on the album at just over a minute. There must be a story here for the need for this song. It’s an instrumental song full of uncomfortable ambient noise. I realized during my 6-month relationship with this cd in my car, I must have skipped this song often, because it feels unfamiliar.
Two Headed Beast are unapologetic and deliberate; they don’t seem to do anything willy-nilly. They have purpose, they have fun. They are set on a course that might be unconventional, but they do it with flair and conviction. Mixing classic high 80s vocals with sludgy 90s stoner rock seems weird, but Two Headed Beast make it feel like a tested genre. You’ll have fun with this band via release or live. They are just a bunch of super nice guys who love playing music.