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CD Review – The Hazard County Girls – Divine Armor

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Imagine, if you will, for whatever reason you’re wandering around lost on the outskirts of New Orleans. It's pitch-ass black and you’re fumbling your way through the muck and grime trying to find something that resembles civilization. Suddenly you trip and stumble forward. You’re caught in something thick and heavy, and as you stumble forward your feet get heavier and heavier – you’re stuck, you can’t get out. If you’re with me so far, you’ve got a pretty good idea what the New Orleans-based Hazard County Girls sound like on their latest release, Divine Armor – heavy, unrelenting, unremorseful.

Thick like the New Orleans swamp, the Hazard County Girls deliver their sludge metal through 11 of the 12 tracks on the album. The final song, “Ceremony II”, is an eerie reminder/warning that even when you feel safe, the swamp is deadly. “Ceremony II” is a reprise to “Ceremony,” served up sans guitars or percussion with only the haunting voice of lead singer Christy Kane as she plays the melody line on a toy piano.

Many metal bands sacrifice true bone-rattling heavy in their music for speed. While I have no doubt the ladies of the Hazard County Girls could match their male counterparts lick for guitar lick, they bring their form of heavy via thump, groove and crunch. “Lucy” is possibly the fastest song on the album, but bass player Jennifer K. never lets you forget that thump is the name of the game even while Kane and drummer Sharon Heather keep up the pace.

Once you’ve started your descent into this release with the opening “Red Light,” you’ll find yourself getting sucked deeper and deeper into the Hazard County Girls’ world. What a beautifully sick and twisted place this world is – a world where an insane blind man fumbles around lost while searching for himself ("Doom"), and “Lucy” is put to death for supposed heretical beliefs (she won't deny her love to her god).

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest metal album packed with break-neck riffs and bullet-train drum rolls, don’t get this album. If, instead, what you yearn for is an album that will shake you to your boots with its heaviness and groove, then this album is that which you seek.

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