The New York City Metal scene has gifted the world with an abundance of notable bands. Anthrax. Helmet. Type O Negative. White Zombie.
The list goes on and on.
Enter Indus Valley Kings, a Long Island-based blend of Hard Rock with Stoner Rock tendencies—and a dash of Doom to keep things interesting.
As we did with Birds of Nazca, we should include a bit of a history lesson in this review. Indus Valley was an ancient civilization in what is now eastern Pakistan and northwestern India.
Amazingly, this civilization lasted 2,000 years, running from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. At its peak, Indus Valley may have contained 5 million people, thanks in part to its urban planning, water supply systems, and advances in technologies like metallurgy.
That’s a pretty cool piece of human history to take your name from.
The statue that you’ll commonly find in Indus Valley Kings’ artwork is the “Priest King” dug up at Mohenjo-daro, one of the Indus Valley’s largest cities.
With that quick history lesson out of the way, let’s discuss the band.
About Indus Valley Kings
Indus Valley Kings is:
- Billy Fridrich – Guitar and Vocals
- Danny Lofaro – Drums
- Jonathan Lesley Habers – Bass and Vocals
Everyone in the band had quite the resume before joining together in 2018. Fridrich played in bands like Caves of Utah, Axis/Orbit, and Signal the Sun; Lofaro played in Long Island bands Visigoth, Steel Pony, Soul 69, and many others; and Habers played in more than a dozen local acts, including Mos Isley, Gravity Check, and Mutha Funkas.
Although they’ve drawn comparisons to Kyuss, Corrosion of Conformity, Helmet, and ‘70s era Black Sabbath, that doesn’t really capture how radio-friendly they’d be in a different age. “Remains of Yesterday,” for example, is a steady headbanger with standout harmonies, and “Devil” rides on a heavy, pulsating attack that eventually erupts into a euphoric guitar solo.
Although they’ve certainly drawn inspiration from all of the aforementioned bands, there’s something distinct about their sound that makes them immediately unique but extremely accessible.
The band recorded the Indus Valley Kings album at Shorefire Recording Studios in New Jersey under the guidance of engineer Joe DeMaio, who has worked with bands like Monster Magnet and Overkill. From there, the album was shipped down to Sage Audio in Nashville for mastering.
The end result: An incredible chunk of Stoner Rock worthy of a few spins on repeat.
Indus Valley Kings Review
Tracks: 9 songs
Before diving in, I do have one recommendation: Crank the dial. This is an album you’ll want to play loud for full effect.
Track One: Angels
The album opens on a massive riff with blasts of fuzz. “Angels” is a solid Hard Rock track delivered with Stoner Rock fuzz, and you might even pick up on some Grunge roots. In fact, Fridrich’s vocal delivery, which is set firmly into the rest of the soundscape and dressed in distortion, sounds a great deal like Daniel Johns in Silverchair’s Frogstomp album.
“Angels” is also the first time we get a glimpse of what will soon become the typical songwriting template for Indus Valley Kings: Open on an awesome riff, transition into the verse, then switch to the chorus, a quick breakdown, then drop to a lower speed with a heavier riff, then play a guitar solo over a backdrop of drums and bass, then return to a previous riff for the outro.
It’s a unique twist on the usual song template, and it brings a fresh perspective to the Stoner Rock genre. Unfortunately (as we’ll discuss later), the band leans a little too heavily on the formula, which means some of their “surprise” transitions eventually become expected, even if they aren’t actually predictable.
Track Two: Cactus People
Like “Angels,” “Cactus People,” opens on a commanding riff. The songwriting here is especially interesting. Even though it follows the same general template established in “Angel,” the first half relies on a chorus and riff that are entirely distinct. In the second half of the song, you’ll likely pick up on some Corrosion of Conformity inspiration in its attack.
Track Three: The Method
Another solid track with the same Stoner Rock vibes, “The Method” offers slow, low, and churning guitars, giving listeners plenty of opportunities for steady headbanging.
Buckle up: There’s a serious shift around 2:40 when Fridrich erupts into a growl and the time signature moves to a quick clip.
Track Four: Remains of Yesterday
If there was a single on the album, “Remains of Yesterday” would be a frontrunner. Standing out with its sleek guitar work and infectious harmonies, “Remains of Yesterday” is a true earworm, especially with its concluding vocal overlays.
Track Five: Devil
Fitting for a track named “Devil,” this song opens with a terrifying bass line. The shift in this song comes around the 3:00 mark when the band breaks into some Fu Manchu-inspired fun.
Track Six: Phoenix
“Pheonix” is influenced by old-school Metal, delivering its attack low and slow. That attack is balanced by Fridrich’s voice—similar to when early Sabbath was punctuated by Ozzy’s high tones.
Track Seven: Scapegoat
“Scapegoat” starts on a thick bassline and a screech of guitar—nods to the early days of Metal and perhaps even to Nu Metal godfathers like Helmet. Despite the heavy opening, “Scapegoat” settles into something a little simpler and more similar to the rest of the album. The chorus here may be the catchiest one on all of Indus Valley Kings, putting “Scapegoat” right up there with “Remains of Yesterday” when it comes to single potential.
Track Eight: Rest in Waste
Heavy and dark, “Rest in Waste” opens like something off Corrosion of Conformity’s Wiseblood. Undeniably gloomy with its plodding guitars and flat, layered vocals, “Rest in Waste” eventually takes an unexpected Cosmic and Psychedelic turn with its guitar solo.
Track Nine: 1000 Wicked Souls
Indus Valley Kings descends even heavier for this final track, reaching beyond “Rest in Waste” to Doom territory. For this final track, Habers takes lead vocals, sounding a great deal like Steve Hennessey of Canadian Stoner act Sheavy.
Pros: Years of individual experience and gelling as a band have paid off in Indus Valley Kings. This debut album delivers consistently high-quality and straightforward Hard Rock with massive Stoner Rock vibes, all of which is delivered with the occasional dose of Heavy Metal and Doom.
Cons: While the Indus Valley Kings songwriting formula is interesting enough, the movement of each song eventually grows predictable. As a result, the band loses some of its initial charm by the end of the album.