In outfits such as the Obsessed, Saint Virus, and Spirit Caravan, doom-metal pioneer Scott “Wino” Weinrich has been honing his sense of paranoia and dread for two decades now. His new group, the Hidden Hand, has a relatively political slant (their name refers to invisible forces that control government and media), but his lyrics still seem more mystical than topical. Trees are crying, mountains are falling, soil is moving, and Wino’s guitar tone is getting dirtier while the ancient prophecies unfold and the rhythm section of Bruce Falkinburg and Dave Hennessy lays down a bottom as thick as the web of lies they want to expose.
Divine Propaganda is a first-rate broodfest, brimming with simmering anger and apocalyptic horror-flick imagery. The conspiracy theorizing seems out there at times, at least judging from some of the “conceptual weapons” suggested in the liner notes as a “defense of the human population in the face of tyranny” (e.g., “telepathic ability”).
So their thinking might not always be disciplined (“Look at the moon and don’t forget/Outer space or a TV set?”), but the band sounds steady and self-controlled, from the mega-ton stoner riffs of “Bellicose Rhetoric” to the token punk workout of “Screw the Naysayers” and the delay-phase psychedelia of “The Last Tree.” Considering their roots in sludge, the Hidden Hand are also relatively terse; with 10 songs in under 37 minutes, these guys aren’t wasting time while waiting for the end of the world.