Lumberhead are a fresh new band from Leipzig, Germany, and have recently come out with their debut self-titled album.
Imagine German metal and you’ll most likely think of either Teutonic thrash, classic power metal or the more industrial-leaning Neue Deutsche Härte. Instead, Lumberhead offer us a thick, juicy steak of bludgeoning, clobbering, swaggering groove metal.
That rough and ready hardcore groove is at the heart of what we have here, but the band also clearly make good use of a variety of different influences to season the meal. Most prominently, plenty of southern/stoner rock charm can be heard throughout, giving the sound a certain underlying cockiness reminiscent of Clutch or Monster Magnet. In the end, we get something that owes as much to Black Label Society or Down as it does to Pro-Pain or Pantera.
The whole album has a good, rough “recorded in a garage” sound. This is perhaps expected of a young, unsigned band, but ultimately also feels like it just adds to the intended atmosphere. The vocals can sound a bit distanced from the rest of the music, but in general the sound is also enveloping enough for it not to matter most of the time. Despite the forceful sort of music on show here, there’s always a tempering sense of fun. Just listen to the slap bass popping up all over the place, or the occasional galloping riff ala Karma to Burn. “Axethrower” is perfectly joyful, hacking, slashing aggression.
Even more promisingly, the band consistently maintain a sense of melody. “Shipwrecked” is a fine example of this, and “Moving Mountains” too, despite featuring some of the most aggressive instrumentation on the album. A good appreciation for a melody can go a long way with this sort of style; too often it’s overlooked in favour of pure pounding power. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but I like the promise of more here.
If the album suffers in one area, it’s length. Setting the interlude aside, there are seven songs here, and more than half of them exceed the seven minute mark, with the rest ranging from four-and-a-half to six minutes. This can work at times, as in the build of “A Cry for Havoc”, which feels like the opening to some kind of tribal ceremony, but a lot of the times these longer offerings can feel like they go on for too long. What’s on offer here isn’t bad, and never becomes dull, but sometimes does feel like a trim might help. Part of me wants to recommend a future focus on shorter, punchier numbers, but at the same time, there are definite indications that the band has a taste for further development and progression within their songs, and it would be criminal to stymie that.
Still, Lumberhead’s debut is absolutely a solid piece of work. For those with a taste for the more hardcore, groove-laden side of heavy music, who like it consistently heavy but never relying solely on aggression, Lumberhead is a great way to spend an hour.