Saturday 17 October 2015

WINDHAND - Grief's Internal Flower (Album Review)

Release date: September 18th 2015. Label: Relapse Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Grief's Infernal Flower – Tracklisting

1.Two Urns 08:11
2.Forest Clouds 09:11
3.Crypt Key 05:39 video
4.Tanngrisnir 05:36
5.Sparrow 04:46
6.Hyperion 05:29
7.Hesperus 14:26
8.Kingfisher 14:19
9.Aition 03:32

Band Members:

Asechiah Bogdan - Guitars
Garrett Morris - Guitars
Dorthia Cottrell - Vocals
Ryan Wolfe - Drums
Parker Chandler - Bass


Virginia’s Windhand will be familiar to most within the shadowy realms of the international Doom scene. Plying their particular trade for around seven years, they’ve stuck close to the genre’s roots over the course of their previous two full-length releases (2012’s self-titled released and 2013’s Soma), and their third studio album Grief’s Infernal Flower sees their trademark sound polished to perfection like the handles on a grandiose coffin.

Opener ‘Two Urns’ starts with ambience before a fuzzed out, mammoth of a riff lumbers in, grinding on like an infernal organ played backwards. One of the bands’ strengths on this record is nailing down the quintessential elements of the classic doom riff – tone, groove and tempo. ‘Two Urns’ swings between driving force and deliberately paced, before slowing down hard towards the climax, bludgeoning you with a remorseless, repeated phrase.

Forest Clouds’ begins with a touch of psychedelia – a buzzing, phasing and reverb drenched riff that is cast aside by a crunchy, swaggering passage that will have you swaying. Wolfe’s drum work is intuitive and organic; his cymbals are satisfyingly splashy, and his fills skilful without drawing too much focus. It’s clear that the quintet are happy to sit on a single, strong riff for as long as they like, letting each breathe and grow naturally without forcing too many shifts on proceedings.

Tanngrisnir’ and ‘Hyperion’ act as two excellent summaries for the overall tone of the album – huge, buzzing lines that instil a sense of growing disquiet, building feedback, stately, slab-like riffs and sparkling guitar sorcery. ‘Sparrow’ is just Dorthia Cottrell and a sombre, frail yet honest acoustic guitar track that really allows her breathy vocals to come to the fore. Throughout the record, her voice acts as a hook, something to entice and ensnare, a wearied yet sonorous croon that is at times a bit too recessed in the mix, but this merely adds to the mystique.

When you reach the album’s zenith, the sprawling, psyched-out ‘King Fisher’, it’s blatant that Windhand have done something worthy. Like Pallbearer, they’ve taken doom, traced it back to the dark, pulsating root, and then dragged it into the light of the present, adding no little polish. This isn’t doom being wilfully unlistenable; there’s repetition and chops to satisfy all but the most ardent doom-beard, but this is a record you could play to your ‘unenlightened’ kith and kin and not have the CD immediately ejected and hurled, Frisbee style from the room. Vital stuff, evidence of why the doom renaissance just keeps getting stronger.

Words by Jamie Hampshire


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