While purists continue to split hairs over what makes "true" heavy-metal style, Danava combs the genre into a weave of fantastic art-rock wizardry that leaves the stick-straight by the wayside. For its full-length debut, Kemado Records' dark horse moves between kohl-cloaked glam and by-the-misty-bog Zeppelin hallucination fantasies. Gargantuan stoner rhythms and high caterwauls abound. When your shortest song clocks in at the seven-minute mark, though, there's ample space for Hawkwind, Ozzy and Alice Cooper to flash back and this Portland act keeps an open relationship with its influences. Plenty of mainstream heavies hark back to when the black light was the bedroom bulb of choice, but Danava is no cloying trend-chaser. Instead of skating on stadium-ready simplicity, every track is texturized for maximum dramatic impact. Frontman Dusty Sparkles narrates from a distant, fuzz-toned plane, while guitar feedback morphs into Herculean wind tunnels and piano melodies become melancholy codas. As masters of the balancing act, Danava marry progressive aesthetics to deep metal grooves, ending up with a niche that even the sticklers can bang their heads to.
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