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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Windhand June 16, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Listening to stoner and doom rock is an odd experience for me. Having loved Sabbath since c. 1980 (both Dio and Ozzy Sabbath eras, and not unpartial to the holy mess that was Gillan’s brief tenure) clearly I like the booming doomy riffs that underpin both genres. But I have to be honest, I’m probably more taken by when things speed up. And yet, every once in a while I’ll hear groups – Kyuss were one, Electric Wizard another, who strip it down once more, often slow it down and somehow find something new in the mix.

So it is with Windhand who on paper are doom rock by numbers, and yet, in the combination of Dorthia Cottrell (vocals), Asechiah Bogdan (guitar), Garrett Morris (guitar), Parker Chandler (bass) and Ryan Wolfe (drums) it somehow transcends that. Take a listen to Grief’s Infernal Flower, released three or so years back.

Cottrell’s voice is a remarkable instrument, something that could pitch them easily – should they want to – in a near shoe gaze direction, or contrariwise in an Americana direction – and when they deploy the acoustic guitars, as they do from time to time, and there are two entirely acoustic tracks, it provides a necessary framing of the rest of the album (she has a solo album that takes that precise course). But while extremely important it’s not just her voice. The two guitars churn and mesh, the bass thuds satisfyingly as do the drums

There’s a psychedelic tinge to some of the tracks (Hyperion’s guitars are fuzzed up wonders, Hesperus starts out with restrained power). And while slow, they’re not too slow. And sometimes… well when I find myself humming along to the surprisingly cheery Crypt Key I think that’s a success.

Of course the lyrical content is… the lyrical content. They don’t talk much about it, which perhaps is as well to judge from the song titles, all gloomy stuff about urns and crypts. It’s fascinating to me how one form of alienation, that symbolised by Sabbath (and in a way Joy Division) borne of industrialisation and its discontents was transmuted into something closer to goth when mapped across an ocean. I know which one I prefer but I can’t deny that there’s a pull in this instance (and kudos to them for their presentation, visual as well as musical). Oddly that perhaps makes the acoustic material work seem so in place in the overall approach.

Given what I wrote above it’s probably no surprise I’d love them to speed up – just to see where it takes them, but so far more than so good.

Two urns

Crypt Key

Forest Clouds

Sparrow

Hyperion

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