Narrow Head – ’12th House Rock’ | Album Review

narrow head

Narrow Head’s new album 12th House Rock is out now via Holy Roar Records.

Bursting from the Texas underground scene, alt rock outfit NARROW HEAD consists of Jacob Duarte (vocals, guitar), William Menjivar (guitar), Carson Wilcox (drums) and most recent additions Ryan Chavez (bass) and Kora Puckett (guitar). When listening to NARROW HEAD for the first time you will be immediately hit with a wall of noise created by oversaturated, high gain, distorted guitars and a bass tone that could make walls crumble. The vocal style of Duarte is similar to a haunting lullaby with long overdrawn lyrics reminiscent of Deftones’ vocalist Chino Moreno. Your emotions are put to the test while listening to this Texan hard/alt-rock band. The songwriting is open hearted and leaves you feeling naked as you journey through each song with the gut-wrenching lyrics and monstrous riffs.

Following up from 2016’s Satisfaction, 12th House Rock is NARROW HEAD’s first album released under Holy Roar Records. The album discusses issues such as self-loathing, mourning, the loss of loved ones and self-medication. Duarte recalls the album being written in the early hours of the morning: “Those quiet moments alone when utter silence and my self-medication made it impossible to escape from my own thoughts. It was also from a specific time when I didn’t take care of myself and made bad decisions in all aspects of my life. These songs were a way out, temporarily anyway.”

The record (look at me, still calling them records) begins with fuzzed bass lines, high gain guitar tones and deceptively sweet and innocent melodies with the opening track ‘Yer Song’ but it isn’t until the second track, ‘Ponderosa Sun Club’, that I start to feel myself being drawn into the album by Wilcox’s drumming and intriguing patterns that are centre stage and remain a driving force throughout the song along with the vocals as the guitars and bass take a step back. It is here you can truly appreciate the instrumentation of the band and how the vocals sit in the mix.

Speaking about their single ‘Night Tryst’ Duarte said, “I wanted to create a fairly dark world with my words. Kind of like the reality William Burroughs creates in Naked Lunch: a grimy world of drunks and druggies filled with endless nights of unknown substances, pleasures, and regrets. I put my life and experiences into that world and those are the words that came out.” This song, as well as ‘Delano Door’, are perfect examples of an expertly crafted bass tone that is given plenty of room to breathe and shine that is topped off with a lead tone that is sharp and piercing, similar to Alice in Chains.

However, something that I found off-putting in the band’s first album still remains in 12th House Rock. The instrumentation of the band is something that I absolutely love. I love the tones and composition of NARROW HEAD but I find that the vocals don’t cut through the mix in some songs. This was an annoyance to me as when I’m listening to music I love to listen closely to the lyrics and analyse the themes and issues the music discusses.

Order the album via Holy Roar Records.

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