What a great year for metal. We at Heavy Blog say it a lot. What a great year for ____ metal. Death, black, doom, whatever. It’s all really good. Doom is having a great year and putting out a lot of great records. Bands are coming back with follow up releases, and it just couldn’t be a better time to be a metal fan. Windhand is keeping the streak alive in 2018 with their newest, Eternal Return. It continues to explore the spooky psychedelic take on doom metal and expanding on that sound even further in what should be on everyone’s best of the year list.
Windhand has had some changes since we last saw them after 2015’s Grief’s Infernal Flower. The most significant of these changes is the departure of co-guitarist and founding member Asechiah Bogdan. The band had to regroup after his loss. In a recent interview, guitarist Garrett Morris said, “We’ve definitely scaled it way back. We took it slow and regrouped and figured out what it was like to be a four-piece.” The loss of a member can be particularly devastating to a band sometimes, not to mention the choice of carrying on with what you have instead of replacing the member. So what does Windhand do? Easy. Turn up the fuzz and bring out the bass. What else would you expect of a super psychedelic doom metal band like Windhand?
The second big change isn’t quite so obvious. As Windhand has gotten a bigger audience and more attention, their recordings have reflected that growth. The biggest change you can hear is Dorthia Cottrell’s vocals. They’re far more distinct and clear on Eternal Return than ever, even since their first bigger budget recording on Grief. Having Cottrell more front and center is a net gain because it’s what makes their music even more compelling. Her voice makes the songs spooky and doomy. It’s very breathy and melodic and just makes the songs that much better. This band would sound completely different with another singer.
All of these culminate into what is probably Windhand’s best sounding record so far. Every song features incredibly doomy sounding fuzzy guitars, cymbals and drums that take up the spaces in between, and those signature vocals that give everything that signature psychedelic spookiness. You hear it on every track, but “Grey Garden” definitely showcases what it’s all about. From the first moment you hear Morris’s guitars laden with so much fuzz that his amp can’t quite handle it, you know you’re in for a treat of a track. You can also hear how they’re making due with the single guitar player by turning up Parker Chandler’s bass in the mix and using it to keep the rhythm a second guitarist might normally do. They also layer him with fuzz just to really put it on the nose. The mix lets you hear pretty much everything going on in the song and makes the track sound so full and lush despite Cottrell singing about doom and gloom.
Honestly, this is going on my list for best of the year. Windhand hasn’t changed much over the years, but that’s because they created such a unique and original sound that they really don’t need to change much. Bands usually form and hone their sound over the course of years and a number of records, but Windhand had the winning formula right off the bat. Losing a guitarist only made their sound more organic and natural. They leaned a little harder on this record into the psychedelic side of things on this record, but that’s essentially what the band has been growing into over the last 8 years. This is a can’t miss record for 2018 and keeps the streak of amazing 2018 metal alive.