White Hills are the quintessential New York rock band. They’re loud, gritty, can wear a pair of leather pants like nobody’s business, and paint musical visions of stark cityscapes and shadowy worlds that only make their presence known when the sun dies over the lower east side. Dave W and Ego Sensation are the minds behind the band, incorporating others into their psychedelic fold over the years to help bring their visions to life. Their sound is decidedly psychedelic, though each of their albums evolves that original DNA, morphing and mutating into something different and otherworldly each time out. But you can rest assured whatever they’re cooking up it’s going to be loud.
Heads On Fire was originally released in 2007 on Rocket Recordings, but then re-released in 2009 on Thrill Jockey. Dave and Ego were bartending in New York at the time, working till 6am then heading to New Jersey to record with Bob Bellomo at his studio. With Bellomo behind the drums, the band recorded a fever dream of sound that would become Heads On Fire.
Fast forward to 2021 and the band discovering a mysterious hard drive which after some IT TLC it was discovered to contain unreleased songs from the HOF recording sessions. Besides the hard drive a notebook containing album concepts and lyrics were also found like some lost tome from long gone times. Dave W remixed the original LP and incorporated the new tracks for what you have here, The Revenge Of Heads On Fire. An 11-track epic trip through buzz saw guitars, teeth-chattering bass, explosive drums, and a distant voice telling us “Don’t be afraid.”
For those who first heard these songs via the 2009 version of Heads On Fire you’ll notice a new kind of clarity. The songs buzz and shimmer with the new remixes and mastering. Also, it’s 5 songs heavier thanks to those lost tracks plugged back in. “The Instrumental Head” is one of those new tracks and it opens the record in a swirl of psychedelic jamming, somewhere between Sabbath and The Stooges but with Dave W’s classic psych guitar swirls. It’s the perfect way to begin the journey. Another new track is “Is This The Road” which is a slow burn of a track, carried along by Ego Sensation’s beckoning bass line and the ghostly vocals of Dave W. “Silent Violence” is a cosmic jam of epic proportions, touches of Hawkwind and the NWOBHM. Dave W’s vocals are somewhere between chants and incantations and they are the perfect vibe to lay over this jam.
You still have classics like “Radiate”, “Ocean Of Sound”, and “Visions Of The Past, Present, and Future” which sound better than ever here, giving us a glimpse at what albums like White Hills and H-p1 would have to offer. Along side the new songs, these classics buzz with new life. And the masterstroke is the 21-minute “Don’t Be Afraid”, a doom-laden anthem for the dystopia we all deserve. This is still one of most epic psych rock tracks I’ve had the pleasure of blowing my mind to. Touches of Pink Floyd, Sabbath, The Black Angels, and art rock all rolled into this massive sound experience.
I never thought White Hills could improve on a classic like Heads On Fire, but they have. The Revenge Of Heads On Fire is a re-imagining and rebirth of an album that already had an endless sonic shelf life. This is the post-apocalyptic soundtrack we’ve been waiting for.
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