Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hot Fog – Secret Phantasies of the Dragon Sun

Metal is already a bit of a strange genre in the music world, but it is astounding how some bands manage to create metal that is sonically in line with the genre’s sound, and yet take a completely twisted, sideways approach to things. One prime example of this is the legendary Slough Feg, a band that has come up with some strange melodies in their time, but is undeniably heavy metal. In a similar sense, fellow Californian’s Hot Fog are definitely a little bit different from the crowd, and it is likely that Mike Scalzi and co. are a primary influence on the band. Everything from the band name, album title, artwork, and even song lengths (ranging from 2 minutes to 9), show that there are no boundaries for Hot Fog. There is another side of this band, however, which is the stoner metal/rock influence. This isn’t a subgenre I’m terribly familiar with, but Hot Fog definitely brings out elements of that sound.

The only element of this album that might be a bit inaccessible is the vocal performance. Frontman Tim Mitchell definitely has the ability, but his voice is a bit outside the norm for traditional heavy metal. Besides having a bit of a unique tone, he actually sounds like he’d be more comfortable in a band like Priestess. The songwriting on “Secret Phantasies of the Dragon Sun” is a mixed bag, largely alternating between the aforementioned traditional heavy metal and stoner metal. Tracks like “Dawn of the Falconer” and “Epoch of the Tyrant” are showcases of epic songwriting combined with simplistic, if a bit strange riffing and leads. The former song has a great chorus, with Mitchell reaching some of his best heights vocally. Just as quickly as they draw you in to this sound, Hot Fog will unleash their bluesier stoner influence on “Tonight (In The Night)”, and in parts of “By Sanity Denied”. This style is competently played, but can’t compete with the other tracks. The title track manages to pull the two sounds together, and for that reason alone, it is actually the most interesting track on the record. The lengthy “Agamemnon’s Gambit” is worth the 9-minute investment. This track gallops along at a classic metal pace, while also delivering a variety of twists and turns to keep things interesting for its duration. 

With “Secret Phantasies of the Dragon Sun”, Hot Fog has delivered a bit of a bipolar album. The two styles played on this record are certainly not worlds apart, but they tend to alienate the listener who doesn’t enjoy both sounds. This frustration is compounded by the fact that a Slough Feg-esque style usually takes quite a few listens to truly get into. Nevertheless, it is worth spending that time because this album has plenty of interesting moments.

Be sure to check out and like Hot Fog on Facebook!

Highlights
"Dawn of the Falconer"
"Secret Phantasies of the Dragon Sun"
"Agamemnon's Gambit"

Final Rating
3.7/5 or 74%. 

Written by Scott

3 comments:

  1. I am a fan of this band, and I think your review on the vocals is an unfair assessment. Not to mention, they sound much more closer in tone to the sounds of traditional metal than say stoner. I truthfully think that another closer listen to this album would be warranted. What I hate more than anything is when people review albums who tend to listen to more modern metal sounds without considering that there are bands out there who want to play more retro types of metal. So, what's wrong with that?

    Does every metal band have to scream or have death growls to be good? Hell, we need more bands like this to carry on the tradition of classic metal, otherwise it will all be lost one day. It's not like there isn't enough Black or Death Metal type bands out there. I think listening to a traditional heavy metal band like Hot Fog is refreshing if truth be told.

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    1. Skull Fracturing MetalAugust 31, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      Regardless of what style the vocals are, I don't think your second comment is fair. A quick look around the blog shows I review everything from traditional heavy metal to black, death, thrash, power, speed, and doom. My ratings also show that I am a huge fan of anything retro. I just don't think Hot Fog is all that good. There will always be bands playing every style of metal. There is plenty of traditional heavy metal around these days: White Wizzard, Enforcer, Cauldron, Zuul, Striker, and Holy Grail are just a few examples.

      Also, I stand by the comment that they're more stoner than traditional heavy metal. Hot Fog's singer sounds nothing like Dickinson, Halford, Dio, Ozzy, or any of those type of singers.

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