Following an unusually long, three-year gap since their acclaimed second album, Mother Teacher Destroyer (interrupted only by 2005's Devoid of Color DVD/EP), Maryland's the Hidden Hand delivered yet another thought-provoking, fairly eccentric opus in 2007's curiously named The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote. "Whiskey Foote," as it turns out, is a fictitious character concocted by the group to represent America's early pioneers, about whom each song spins a different yarn, ultimately knitting a semi-intertwined conceptual whole. None of this is very easy to discern, however, since the Hidden Hand's prose (normally focused on political/historical lyrics, as compared to the more ethereal nature of Scott "Wino" Weinrich's previous band, Spirit Caravan), is even more vague and oblique than usual here. But at least the trio doesn't stray too far from the expected, musically speaking, performing a heavy brand of fuzz rock, with sluggish doom tempos oddly dominating three out of the album's first four numbers: "Someday Soon," "Spiritually Bereft," and somnolent opener "Purple Neon Lagoon." Thankfully, the energy level is eventually picked up by mid-paced monoliths such as "Dark Horizons," foreboding standout, "The Lesson," and the crunchy-riffed "Majestic Presence," which eventually descends into lysergic Hendrix-ian shredding. Also, as with previous Hidden Hand albums, bassist Bruce Falkinburg occasionally takes center stage with his own gruff vocals (reminiscent of Savatage's Jon Oliva, strangely enough), yet here he leads three in a row in the title track, the harmonica-enhanced "Lightning Hill," and the ultra-heavy "Broke Dog." And for his part, Wino exhibits his undiminished six-string talents throughout, but saves his flashiest, tastiest psychedelic guitar work for epic closer "Slow Rain," which will hopefully satisfying those who miss his more dominant presence on band projects past. But then, it is this democratic quality that arguably makes the Hidden Hand the most unique band project of Wino's long and respected career -- and The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote well worth investigating, despite its abundant idiosyncrasies.