PICK OF THE WEEK: Windhand put focus on journey from life to death on murky ‘Eternal Return’

Photo by Joey Wharton

None of our lives are mapped out or really can be planned in any real concrete way. So many things happen from the time we’re born until our death that cause our paths to curve and go into places we’d never expect, it almost makes no sense to make plans at all. It’s part of what makes existence so frustrating yet ultimately exciting.

For Virginia-based doom pillars Windhand, they took all of this into account and let it shape their fourth record “Eternal Return,” a nine-track, 65-minute opus that follows the blossoming of life and our impending demise. The band itself endured loss, changed its lineup, and all the while endured, coming back as a band you’ll very much recognize when you hear this record, though you’ll notice some subtle differences in sound mixed in with the psychedelia-draped doom. As for the band, longtime guitarist Asechiah Bogan left the fold, leaving Garrett Morris as the only guitar player. But that subtraction doesn’t lessen their grip at all, and if anything, they sound even more channeled. Singer Dorthia Cottrell remains one of the most powerful, alluring vocalists in all of metal (not just doom), and the rhythm section of bassist Parker Chandler (also of Cough) and drummer Ryan Wolfe pounds you, as this band keeps getting stronger and wiser as they grow.

“Halcyon” opens the record with noise swirling and riffs that are trademark Windhand coming for you. Cottrell’s voice, adding emphasis to the, “I wish you would,” chorus really sells this one, and in other spots she sees visions in the waters. The soloing burns, while a psychedelic haze is applied, and following a return to the chorus, everything bleeds away. “Grey Garden” is riffy and sticky, with the chorus of, “Isn’t it all a mess? Soon it’ll go away,” rewiring your brain. A cool psyche wind blows in, with the guitars bringing everything back to life, and a the chorus’ return blowing everything away. “Pilgrim’s Rest” pulls things back, as it’s a doom ballad with moody, reflective tones and Cottrell noting, “All love is pain.” “First to Die” has muscular, burly riffs as the pace lands blows, and the vocals swelter. The pace of the song gives off serious steam, with a strong chorus, bold vocals, and the leads burning before fading away. “Light Into Dark” is a cool instrumental that reminds a bit of the fade-in from “War Pigs” as guitars keep unloading, firing away and bleeding into madness.

“Red Cloud” unloads more jagged riffs, with Cottrell howling, “My hands are clean, washed up your precious heart,” amid a pulsing rhythm section and fiery guitars. The track delves deep into the fuzz as it goes on, ending in trudging melody. “Eyeshine” runs 11:03, and it buzzes in the air before the doom drops. The pace is filthier and steaming, with Cottrell singing about a “stranger crossing the sea” repeatedly so it gets stuck in your head. The soloing spits fiery noise, while the back end is steady and bruising, leaving you a heap. “Diablerie” reopens old wounds, as it’s a shorter (for them), heavier track where Cottrell pastes you with her call of, “Hope it don’t come back again,” in yet another chorus that you won’t be able to forget. A fluid, doomy solo slices in, as the track comes to a melodic, memorable end. Closer “Feather” is the death knell, clean and swimming in warm melodies, slowly melting as Cottrell’s softer singing sends chills. The band later rips right through the calming fog with bludgeoning, exploring and soaring, unleashing sorrowful guitar work that makes your heart quiver. Thick drone later arrives like a swarm, and then the track reawakens, as the vocals immerse you, sounds blend, and everything drowns out in a psychedelic storm.

The journey that unfolds on “Eternal Return” might result in death, but that’s only from the perspective of this vision. As a band, Windhand weathered the storms they faced and came out galvanized, which you’ll hear on these great nine songs. This band is building their legacy with each building block, and “Eternal Return” is one that infuses Windhand with even more life even while they stare into the mouth of impending darkness.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.windhand.band/

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords