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Harvey Milk : Special Wishes

Harvey Milk is a band that breaks a lot of boundaries. Heavy bluesy music has been made before but not in such an extremely doomy fashion. It's nothing new for blues to be a bit filthy but it's never been done like this. It's also quite uncommon for anything bluesy to be aggressive to the point where it starts to break with sanity. In fact, very few bands do that at all and I'm pretty sure no other band in the world can currently claim the same territory as these guys.

Most of the tracks remind me of an extremely heavy blend of doom/sludge, blues, post-rock and . The whole thing is wrapped in very thin layers of sanity which threaten to burst at any time. A perfect illustration would be a man who's gritting his teeth and just barely containing his urge to leap at someone's throat. However, some of the calmer tracks do not fit this pattern. These songs contain elements of slow rock and sometimes have a ballad like structure with a sad overtones. No matter which of the two styles a given track uses it will undeniably feel like they belong together within the context of the album as a whole. Harvey Milk, in a complexly simple way, makes you want to be able to play just like them.

War is a central lyrical theme on many of the tracks. All of them seem to be a very honest, yet often quite subtle, depiction of the bands negative feelings towards the subject. It's hard to tell whether or not this is related to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even though the lyrics may not be refering to these current wars directly, the viewpoint obviously comes from the private soldier off to war and no matter what war they're taking part in there is ultimately no difference. Another way of putting it is that the war-theme is pulled off in such a way that it both reminds me of punk attitudes and the lyrics of the anti-Vietnam songs of the late 60's. I find it amazing how well the band seems to incorporate all the emotional elements of war; from missing your loved ones and childhood lost, to the fear of death, to the hatred of the enemy and those who ordered you there, to the grief that occurs when someone doesn't return. Having put a lot of focus on the war theme, it should be noted that the band also lashes out against a generally filthy society as well.

Yes, both the lyrics and the music are quite out of the ordinary both in quality and style. Harvey Milk have found a niche that undoubtedly fits them perfectly and will influence a lot of newer bands when finally discovered. In the category of music that relies strongly and purely on heavy riffage, 'Special Wishes' is one of the best efforts to date. Few releases have impressed me this much.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. I've Got A Love
2. War
3. Crush Them All
4. Once In A While
5. Instrumental
6. The End
7. Love Swing
8. Old Glory
9. Mothers Day

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Harvey Milk bandpage.

Reviewed on 01-04-2009 by Arnstein Petersen
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