We’re going to make a bold prediction here: Honeybadger is about to make waves.
It’s dangerous to make bets in the music industry, and it’s even riskier to make bets anywhere close to a genre as overlooked as Stoner Rock. But there’s something wonderful about Honeybadger that makes the rockers from Athens, Greece, hard to ignore.
Listening to their debut album, Pleasure Delayer, there are plenty of comparisons to make right off the top: Queens of the Stone Age. Clutch. Them Crooked Vultures.
The band simply has a knack for crafting hook-laden riffs.
As of yet, Pleasure Delayer hasn’t blown up on streaming services, but we’re guessing that it’s going to take a moment for the rest of the world to take note. For what it’s worth, they’re already a celebrated live act in the Greek Rock scene.
Before we review the album, let’s take a look at the band:
Dimitris Vardoulakis – Vocals, Guitars
Dimitris Giannnakopoulos – Guitars
Dimitris Yannopoulos – Bass
Vaggelis Oikonomou – Drums
Over the last few years, Honeybadger has played with Greek royalty like Nightstalker and Planet of Zeus. While the Greek music scene is undergoing its own sort of Renaissance at the moment, many of their biggest influences come from the United States. We’ve already mentioned Queens of the Stone Age, Clutch, and Them Crooked Vultures, but the band also cites Black Sabbath, the Beatles, and the Seattle Grunge scene as major influences on their work.
It all comes together in an intoxicating brew.
Pleasure Delayer Album Review
Before we get to Pleasure Delayer, we should talk about a previous effort from Honeybadger.
In 2017, they released a short 4-track called The Rain. Like Pleasure Delayer, The Rain is drenched with slick riffs and classic rock influences, making it a guitar hero’s dream. But where The Rain falls short is in its recording. The Rain sounds like an old Greenleaf album (think “Secret Alphabets” or “Agents of Ahriman”)—retro vibes that ignore some of the lower ends and sticks to highlighting the treble.
Pleasure Delayer fills that void with Stoner Rock-appropriate bass levels.
With that out of the way, let’s talk specifics.
Honeybadger’s Pleasure Delayer is on the Made of Stone Recordings record label, our newest record label crush based in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Pleasure Delayer is eight tracks spanning a total of 34 minutes. It’s a quick ride, but not necessarily surprising for the band’s first full-length effort.
In Pleasure Delayer, Honeybadger has established a signature sound. In addition to writing really catchy hooks and riffs, the way they present these tracks are as unique as any fingerprint: Underneath every riff is a massive dose of bass—almost enough to make one note indistinguishable from the next. Saving this potential pitfall (and the bass never becomes an issue) is an equally high dose of clean guitar work that soars over the rest of the track and guides the listener through the song.
Using this clever technique of blending desperate lows with ecstatic highs, Honeybadger has written an album that captures all of Desert Rock’s best elements.
Track 1: The Wolf
The album opens with what is likely the biggest riff on the entire album, with wild guitars driving over massive waves of bass and drums.
In many ways, “The Wolf” is the perfect opener for Pleasure Delayer—and not just because the song’s signature riff is bound to grab your attention. “The Wolf” opens with these lyrics:
I’ve been waiting for the moon to rise,
Rise upon the dark side of me
I’ve been hiding from my other side,
Chased away what I could be.
The reason this works so well is because it begins to capture the sort of duality the title of the album hints at. In our interview with Honeybadger, the band explains:
“[The album title] is about the type of people that have the discipline to hold back their pleasure and wait until something more essential and bigger emerges. That’s one of our principles in how we lead this band, and, for the time being, we’re feeling good about it. After delaying the action, the pleasure gets bigger.”
If there’s one drawback to “The Wolf,” it’s the closing. It builds up a ton of momentum as the album’s opening track, then loses it in a soft minute-and-a-half interlude. If the band was intent on keeping that outro, they may have had better success making “The Wolf” a stunning concluding track and opening with a track like “That Feel” or “Truth in the Lie.”
Track 2: Through Hell
“Through Hell” opens with a Tim Sult-inspired guitar riff that sounds like it would fit nicely next to Clutch’s “X-Ray Visions.” In reaching the chorus, we again hear Honeybadger’s pop tendencies. For all of the band’s heavy sound, they do an excellent job writing hooks.
Track 3: Crazy Ride
“Crazy Ride” starts slow, building a backdrop of bass and drums for an echoing guitar to roar over. With the slow, dramatic build, “Crazy Ride” is reminiscent of the approach from Nightstalker—another Greek band (think “Children of the Sun” for a comparison). “Crazy Ride” is a solid track from an album riddled with potential hits.
One final note: “Crazy Ride” has one of the best lines from the album: “Got your eyesight crawling on my skin.” Nice.
Track 4: Good for Nothing
“Good For Nothing” starts with a sound like guitar soup through a transistor radio. When the rest of the band comes through, however, Honeybadger takes on a dark, ominous tone until the chorus. “Good for Nothing” is the slowest song on the album, but it’s still a steady rocker that makes for an excellent mid-album intermission.
Track 5: That Feel
“That Feel” is another single from the album, and it does an excellent job demonstrating how far a song can chug on one simple riff. Although the band milks the riff for all its worth, “That Feel” ends on a riff that Fu Manchu would be proud of.
Track 6: Laura Palmer
The band members are big Twin Peaks fans, and they cemented their love for the show by writing about one of its most important characters. Listening to the massive riffs and pounding, persistent drums, it almost feels like you’re drifting through the fog and pine trees. Don’t be surprised if, like the TV show, you want to play “Laura Palmer” over and over. It is certainly one of the more inspired tracks on the album, and it definitely has single potential.
Track 7: Holler
Monster truck rally. That was the first thing that came to mind listening to the wall of bass and guitars launched through “Holler.” That same momentum carries from verse to chorus to verse to chorus, delivering a slick wave of textured fuzz. Listen closely: There’s a flourish on the end of a few notes that makes for an excellent listening experience.
Track 8: Truth in the Lie
One last Clutch reference. Or, to be more specific, one last Tim Sult reference. If you’re not familiar, Tim Sult is the legendary guitarist for Clutch. His guitar work is economic, lithe, direct, and impeccable. “Truth in the Lie” channels many of those same qualities—and the guitar solo sounds like it could be taken from “Tim Sult vs. The Greys.”
Final Thoughts on Pleasure Delayer
Pros: Pleasure Delayer is an impressive first effort riddled with catchy riffs, radio-worthy melodies, and excellent instrumentation. The band has bottled their own brand of lightning in Pleasure Delayer, and we’re excited to see what they produce in the coming years.
Cons: There’s not a lot to complain about here. Pleasure Delayer is a pretty tight album. If we have one major critique, it’s the one we’ve already made: “The Wolf” has too much fluff in its conclusion for a straight-forward Hard Rock album opener. Still, that one complaint is small enough that we can’t reasonably cut into the album’s overall score.