Considering the pedigree of players involved—Danny Carey (drums, Tool), Brent Hinds (guitars, Mastodon), Peter Griffin (bass, Zappa Plays Zappa, Dethklok ), Jimmy Hayward (guitars, Jonah Hex), David “The Doctor” Dreyer (vocals), Tim Dawson (guitars), and Chris DiGiovanni (keyboards)—it’s fair to say that hopes are high for the eponymous debut LP of supergroup Legend of the Seagullmen. Fortunately, it more or less satisfies those expectations. While it’s not as varied, eccentric, intricate, or catchy as some may suppose, the record still packs enough retro allure, tongue-in-cheek charm, and peppered nuances to be a thoroughly thrilling voyage.
The band began formulating several years ago after Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) introduced Hayward to Hinds. Soon after, Hinds introduced Hayward to Dreyer and sparked the ideas for “a nautical spaghetti western." All the pieces fell into place easily from there. The result is what Carey describes as “a very communal and openly creative environment… [in which] all the members have large contributions.” Consequently, Legend of the Seagullmen—a “cinematic [and] psychedelic” sequence that finds the boys “sing[ing] of shipwrecks and giant mutant squid”—is an impressive collection of “conceptual rock 'n' roll hymns of epic proportions.”
The triumphant introduction of Seagullmen fiction (perhaps as a nod to Sgt. Pepper), “We Are The Seagullmen” is an endearing opener that maps out the group’s particular style. It starts with oceanside effects with birds, bells, and the like. Then a gritty hodgepodge of weather-beaten sing-a-long declarations, thunderous percussion, light synth accompaniment, and razor sharp guitar work emerges. It takes you back to the days of classic Motorhead, Metallica, and Black Sabbath. Like the rest of the full-length, it aims for a more straightforward, late ‘70s/early ‘80s metal vibe than, say, Tool and Mastodon. Which is completely the point, of course. Yet, this debut has just enough personality to rise above most other contemporary homages.
Legend of the Seagullmen also ventures into more eclectic places throughout the runtime. “The Frogger” and “The Orca,” for instance, offer a bit more complexity and deviation. Their frantic rhythmic breakdowns, wild guitar solos, and overlapping vocals actually evoke Hinds’s Leviathan. “Shipwreck” has a slightly funkier and more stoner rock mood that finds DiGiovanni peaking around with colorful shades in-between the forefront harshness. Likewise, the blend of piano chords, strings, and acoustic guitar arpeggios truly make “Curse of the Red Tide” a commandingly cautionary and remorseful tale; similarly, closer “Ballad of the Deep Sea Diver” is a magnificent finale. Its gloomy narrative evolves into full-blown symphonic Western soundtrack during the concluding moments. It’s an ambitiously theatrical ending that pinpoints how delightfully grandiose Legend of the Seagullmen can be at their most multifaceted and boundless.
Although it can feel a tad monotonous and underdeveloped at times—not to mention the missed opportunity to have Hinds do any lead singing, even if it meant overtly conjuring Mastodon—Legend of the Seagullmen is an imposing, yet fun, ride from start to finish. Rather than simply mash together the traits of their home projects, the band cleverly captures a genuine, vintage metal aesthetic beneath an innovative and idiosyncratic coating. The members typically match playfulness with marked skill in their main outfits. It’s no surprise that they manage it once again here. All in all, the LP’s consistent fusion of joyful escapades and compositional/technical prowess makes it a promising initial adventure. One that any interested genre fan should check out.