A lot of music has been released or written during the Quarantimes, but Spokane has yet to see an artist taking the past 16 months on so directly as local group Twin Void on their album-length debut, “Free From Hardtimes.”
From the intro, the album situates itself as a piece of COVID-19-era art with fuzzy audio clips of the news. Down the road, 22-year-old frontman Nathan Bidwell said, “I want people to look back and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, that was written in 2020,’ ” in the hard times.
Twin Void started as a two-piece rock band, just Bidwell and Wyatt Farnsworth. Together, the two of them wrote and released their debut EP, “Electric Drone Wasp,” in 2019. “Free From Hardtimes” will be the first release since, and, according to Bidwell, it’s a big step forward.
“When we first started as a two-piece, I just wanted to make kind of something new and different,” he said. “I wanted to write about my life and things that were going on. What I really wanted to do was lyrically push myself forward.”
And as much as “Electric Drone Wasp” was a major change for Bidwell (“I cut my hair, and I changed my way of thinking about music. Just kind of wanted to start fresh and make something new, something a little bit more … personal”) “Free From Hardtimes” represents the real turning point.
The album comes out of Bidwell’s background in hard rock, stoner rock and heavy doom. But it takes those sounds and emphasizes the lyrical and softens the writing a little. The result is a pretty new sound with influences from country, hard rock and more.
To describe Twin Void’s sound, “I could say a bunch of different genres and mash them all together,” Bidwell said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just loud rock and roll. Just some good old American rock and roll. I think that’s just the best way to put it.”
But it’s even more than that because “Hardtimes” doesn’t just contain the “loud.” One of the album’s standout tracks is “You Can Hear the Devil Walkin’,” which draws on noise as much as any other. But it also takes its time, drawing in listeners with an almost western-sounding guitar intro and outro.
It’s in contrast with the openings’ delicacy that Bidwell’s “loud rock and roll” emerges. The guitar changes completely, and the listener finds themselves in the pits of hard rock. “They say a broken man is judged by his thoughts / All that I can say is alright,” Bidwell sings and shouts.
In approaching the album, Bidwell had to reconcile his diverse influences. He wanted to stay true to the underground punk scene, but he also wanted his record to be clean. So, he figured, “Let’s make a very dirty scummy rock ’n’ roll record. But, you know, let me record it at Amplified Wax,” which is known for its radio-ready and clean-cut sound.
“Almost a bigger, kind of arena rock sound. I wanted to blend those two worlds together a little bit.” The result is a tight, but authentically textured record. “Free From Hardtimes” isn’t out until this fall, but Twin Void have recently announced a U.S. tour that will include playing the album’s new content.
They’re mainly playing shows throughout the West, but they’ll also be journeying to Orlando for the Warlando Metal Festival, where they’ll be joining up with heavy metal legends Judas Priest and other big names.
“As you can probably imagine, it’s just unbelievable. It’s just absolutely incredible,” Bidwell said. “Playing with those size bands is just unreal. They’re gonna be fantastic.” It’s a huge moment of recognition for Twin Void.
But recognition from big names on the heavy rock scene is something they’ve got plenty of now. “Free From Hardtimes” was mixed and mastered by Scott Middleton, guitarist for the Cancer Bats. They even have a contribution from Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier.
Twin Void is a Spokane band with growing repute inside and outside the city. And given the development from their first EP to “Hardtimes,” they have proven their ability to nuance and reshape their sound. The hard times certainly came, but here’s to hoping we’re free of ’em.
Follow @twin_void on Instagram for concert info and updates on the album’s release, and stream their 2019 EP “Electric Drone Wasp” now.
Julien A. Luebbers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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