If you haven’t heard them yet, Indus Valley Kings is an incredible New York Hard Rock band with Stoner and Doom influences. Their self-titled debut, released early last year, was a blistering record channeling the likes of Kyuss, Corrosion of Conformity, and Helmet—but packaged in the band’s own unique style and tone.
It was an impressive album, and my only (small) complaint at the time was the occasionally formulaic approach to its songwriting.
Well, you can throw that criticism out the window. In their latest release, Origin, the band members have pushed themselves, and they’ve successfully avoided the sophomore slump with something as fresh as it is exciting.
About Indus Valley Kings
In case you need the history lesson (I certainly did the first time I came across them), the band is named after the Indus Valley Civilization—one of the first advanced cities in human history, lasting 2,000 years from 3,300 BCE to 1,300 BCE.
Some records suggest the Indus Valley Civilization may have at one point been home to 10% of the world’s human population, a result of some of the city’s more advanced technologies, like urban planning and water supply systems.
That’s where the band gets its name.
Indus Valley Kings is:
- Billy Fridrich – Guitar and Vocals
- Danny Lofaro – Drums
- Jonathan Lesley Habers – Bass and Vocals
Origin was recorded at Beneath the Sun Studios in Hicksville, NY. It was produced by the band and Mick James, who also engineered it. The album was mastered at West West Side Music by Alan Douches (who, now that I think of it, also has a long working relationship with Clouds Taste Satanic).
Origin Album Review
Release Date: June 8, 2022
Album Length: 55:13
Track 1 – Clown
In my review of Indus Valley Kings, I said some of the songs were predictable after a while.
Welp, that’s definitely not the case with “Clown.” What kicks off with a furious Helmet-style attack eventually calms into a delicious Stoner Rock-style riff, which then slows down to be even more laid-back.
Like many songs on Origin, “Clown” is big and complicated, serving massive riffs punctuated by delicious high notes. It’s a killer opener.
Track 2 – …And The Dead Shall Rise
“…And the Dead Shall Rise” is a direct step back into the ‘90s. As the first single for Origin, “…And the Dead Shall Rise” channels the likes of Soundgarden and (perhaps) a tinge of Silverchair, the young Australian group that pumped out Frogstomp in 1995.
Track 3 – A Cold Wind
“A Cold Wind” is the first of two songs running over eight minutes—a big increase from anything Indus Valley Kings tried on their first record. Although this song starts at a slower pace, there are many distinctive qualities on “A Cold Wind.” For one, Billy Fridrich channels his inner guitar hero to transform into Jimi Hendrix for a huge portion of the song, and Danny LaFaro rides the double kick drums to create a tense atmosphere. There is plenty of new for Indus Valley Kings here, but this is a great track that suits the band quite well.
Track 4 – Hell to Pay
“Hell to Pay” is another deviation for Indus Valley Kings. The song kicks off with a fun drum beat and bass line—one reminiscent of Blink-182 or Les Claypool (I didn’t expect to write that either), but then that awesome Desert-baked Stoner Rock arrives in full Fu Manchu garb. Another big shift: bassist Jonathan Lesley Habers takes the lead on vocals for “Hell to Pay,” and his approach is quite different from Billy’s:
Track 5 – Dark Side of the Sun
After the Desert Rock fun of “Hell to Pay,” “Dark Side of the Sun” opens at a slower pace, allowing its guitar chords to ring out and the drums and bass to quietly march along. There are the tiniest hints of Psychedelia here while Billy Fridrich explores the fretboard, and that leads to quite the satisfying punch when the main riff finally arrives. Like “A Cold Wind,” “Dark Side of the Sun” is a multi-sectional song (it’s nearly nine minutes, after all).
Track 6 – Mohenjo Daro
Named after one of the largest discovered settlements from the Indus Valley Civilization, “Mohenja Daro” is an exciting instrumental track that channels a few different influences in under six minutes. While you’ll hear staples like Black Sabbath, you may also pick up tinges of bands like Colour Haze throughout this sonic ride.
Track 7 – Demon Beast
“Demon Beast” is a slower jam that begins on a massive rush of fuzz and ringing guitar notes—almost like the beginning of a dark Shoegaze song. That Shoegaze element is abandoned almost as quickly as it begins, as “Demon Beast” holds elements of early Doom and Psychedelic Rock in its old school Metal approach, especially with those mystical vocals.
Track 8 – Drowned
One of the heaviest songs on the entire record, “Drowned” kicks off like an old Thrash Metal song—or perhaps early Kyuss or Helmet in their original incarnations. Regardless, those layered vocals help root the song and keep it uniquely Indus Valley Kings.
Track 9 – Sky King
As the closer, “Sky King” is a fun Hard Rock song, riding a big riff and chugging rhythm section under those chanted vocals. As you might expect, the song is then punctuated by an exploratory guitar section, offering plenty of last-minute entertainment before the album concludes.
Final Thoughts on Origin
Final Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: “Clown,” “…And the Dead Shall Rise,” “Hell to Pay,” “Drowned”
Pros: Origin is an impressive expansion of the band’s sound that goes well beyond their work on Indus Valley Kings. While that first album was difficult to categorize beyond “Hard Rock” or the ill-suited “Metal” umbrella, Origin weaves fluidly from Psychedelic to Stoner to Thrash—offering concrete touchpoints that could potentially increase their appeal to a wider audience.
At the same time, Origin feels fresh at every turn because it’s entirely unpredictable, making every song a new, fresh discovery in the Indus Valley Kings kingdom. It’s also worth noting that this album was recorded live in the studio, which makes a few of these complex tracks even more impressive.
Cons: Because Indus Valley Kings pulls inspiration from so many different sources, I would have loved to see smoother transitions throughout this album. For example: After the furious pulsing of “Drowned,” “Sky Kings” opens on an almost joyous riff, subverting the emotional tension the band just worked so hard to create.