Review Summary: Centered around massive, yet groovy riffs and omnipresent blues undertones, this is one of the most notable heavy rock albums of the last decade.
It's a rare case when the cover describes the album so aptly. A huge gorilla holding a bottle of whiskey comes as an ideal indicative of Halfway To Gone's distinct blend of southern metal, stoner rock and blues. Surprisingly, this proves to be quite a refreshing hybrid of music styles that keeps the New Jersey-based trio endlessly engrossing. Granted, merging blues with heavy rock has taken place before many a time, yet it has seldom been done so effectively. Picking up exactly where their 2001 debut left off, “Second Season” showcases an already self-assured act that is not afraid of taking a risk. Nearly half of the album (5 tracks out of 12) is purely instrumental. While the majority of similar acts might find this tactic impossible to pull off, Halfway To Gone are competent enough to totally embrace it, which provides another quasi-progressive dimension to the disc.
“Second Season” revolves around pummeling, fuzzed-out guitar riffs accompanied with outstanding blues-inspired soloing courtesy of Lee Stuart. In addition, the chord progressions frequently turn out to be non-linear including various tempo changes (“Thee Song,” “Never Comin' Home”). An appropriately massive rhythm section is provided by drummer Chuck Dukehart and bass guitarist Lou Gora who also delivers a vastly improved vocal performance. His timbre coupled with a great sense of melody and whiskey-drenched swagger are just perfect for this kind of high-octane rock music.
The heavy tracks are really diverse ranging from hardcore/punk-inspired, fast-tempo rockers (“Already Gone,” “Escape From Earth”) and stoner groove machines (“Great American Scumbag,” “Never Comin' Home”) to nostalgic retro-rock cuts in “Whiskey Train” and an expertly performed cover of The Marshall Tucker Band, “Can't You See.” The act also doesn't steer clear of straightforward blues compositions. Both “Black Coffy” and “Outta Smokes” are distinctively laid back perfectly evoking the atmosphere of the South, while “Tryptophan” verges into high-on-distortion psychedelic rock territory.
“Second Season” is one of several albums recorded in the last decade that capture the true essence of American hard rock music both in its sound and lyrical content. It's difficult to resist the impression that, after nearly 10 years from its release, most songs included in the disc feel like classics containing numerous quotable lines. Being arguably the zenith of the band's consistent discography, “Second Season” comes as a truly inspired record that easily stands out in the heavy rock genre.