Not sure how the winds feels where you happen to be right now, but it’s getting awfully chilly here. Leaves are dying and slowly journeying to the ground, heavier clothing is necessary and the spookiest of times are upon us. That, quite obviously, makes it a fantastic time for more doom metal since it fits the season so perfectly.
So on this dark, cold afternoon, we shall discuss the debut full-length from Virginia stoner/doom lurkers Windhand. Before this debut record, all they had on their resume since forming in 2008 was a two-track demo that includes versions of two of the cuts found on this self-titled opus, but for a band with such a small canon of material, they show enormous potential. And yeah, as Halloween closes in, their music will make a splendid soundtrack to an evening of passing out candy to miserable children and then retiring to the living room to have some treats (probably of the liquid variety) of your own.
There are a ton of comparison points that can be made to Windhand’s music: Electric Wizard, Blood Ceremony, the Devil’s Blood, Black Sabbath. The music is packed with riffy goodness and pulverizing, slow-driven madness, and Dorthia Cottrell’s vocals standing as a major selling point for the band. She’s deep, gritty and soulful, and her voice is impossible not to ignore. You’ll find yourself heeding to her call at every moment. One complaint I have production-wise, though, is that Cottrell’s voice is kind of buried in the mix. I think this record would sound even better if her singing got to rise above the murk and take the leading role it deserves, but perhaps this is all by design. I’ll have to hear this on vinyl because maybe Cottrell’s voice will pop out a little more in the format.
The opening cut on the album is called “Black Candles,” and really, that’s a fixture that would be awfully fitting while hearing this monstrous, blood-caked album. The song begins and ends with a thunderstorm (in fact, the first three cuts on the album are awash in heavy rain when they start), and there’s doomy riff upon doomy riff, as well as some scintillating, bluesy guitar soloing. “Libusen” has mainly the same structure, as the band drubs you with a calculating, suffocating pace, as Cottrell warns, “You better run.” “Heap Wolves” finds Cottrell digging into a grittier, yet still soaring register, while guitarists Garrett Morris and Asechiah Bogdan set fire to everything. The two closing epics change the pace a little bit, as “Summon the Moon” manages to grind the tempo to an even slower, more violent pace, and closer “Winter Sun” lets the band simmer in drone and noise haze, chewier riffing, and even some harsh growls come the song’s conclusion. It’s an awesome ending to this album and makes me wonder if their next record will have more of these elements packed into it. I kind of hope so.
Windhand, if they maintain this intensity, could be part of the next wave of awesome doom-infested bands alongside Cough, The Wounded Kings, Aldebaran and Anhedonist, just to throw out some examples. They have an awesome grasp on how to make doom both glorious and sooty, their guitar work is a thrill to hear, and Cottrell is an up-and-coming singer who I think will be a household name for metal fans within a few years. This first album is strong document that, even with some flaws, appears to indicate this band has enormous upside and will be a horrific force well into the future.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Windhand/115952841804204?ref=ts
To buy the album, go here (pre-order is not up yet, but Forcefield said it will be soon): http://www.forcefieldrecords.org/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.forcefieldrecords.org/site/