Windhand

Windhand

01. Black Candles
02. Libusen
03. Heap Wolves
04. Summon the Moon
05. Winter Sun

[10/25/11]
[Forcefield Records]

Sometimes, music just needs to be for the sake of being. It doesn’t need technicality or crazy effects. It doesn’t always need precision and odd time signatures. Sometimes, it just needs to be heard. In this case, Windhand‘s self titled debut in no way reinvents the wheel, but rather takes it for a spin to places typically only heard in dreams. For those of you who are doom fans, you would be sorry to pass this up. As for those of you who are new to doom/stoner metal, this is a great place to start. This album is a trip.

The album starts off with a storm. Being the Black Sabbath-fanatic that I am, I normally would have shaken my head in disapproval at the notion, but the first chord hit hard and left me on the edge of my seat. That is when I underestimated the power of building tension and anticipation—a tool that Windhand uses to great advantage. This music has a certain kind of conviction that leaves you yearning for more. Between each chord was a relaxed anticipation of everything. I wanted more fills and more vocals and more bass. Not because the music was lacking, but rather, I couldn’t get enough of it.

The instrumentation here is engaging and nothing short of epic. The crunchy guitars trudge through the songs striking low chords over and over. In fact, there is so little going on in the string section that you would think it would get repetitive and boring. This band can hit three chords for an hour and still manage to keep it interesting though. It isn’t necessarily catchy; it’s just composed really well. Every single thing recorded for this album sounds purposeful. The guitar solos also double as the psychedelic in this band, leading off into wah-filled passages fit for a hit of acid. Nothing crazy here, just some classic, soulful, down-to-earth solos that are becoming more and more sparse these days.

There is such a great chemistry between the five instruments. They all pick up the slack, yet they never take the spotlight from one another. For example, the bass does a fine job being the back-up for guitars and does so with variety and nuance in the song “Black Candles,” but it also gets to open with the melody on the song “Summon the Moon” to break up the conventions and lessen the hierarchy between instruments. It is always a comforting notion that some bands don’t always have a weakest link.

The vocal performance is really unique. Dorthia Cottrell wails every word in typical doom fashion but with an impressive range of lows and mids. The production is interesting too. It sounds as if she was miles away yet they are still crisp and clear. I mean, it isn’t groundbreaking, but she has her own sound and a unique voice—the kind of voice that gives you goosebumps. She also has some awesome black metal-esque screams and growls happening way below the mix in “Winter Sun” that just sound fucking cool. I wish they we’re higher in the mix, but to not include them at all would be a terrible discredit to her vocal ability.

Despite all the pros, I  have to warn you that if you have listened to Black Sabbath thoroughly, you will find a lot their music in here. It is retro-worship, but with a mind for being something refreshing—not repetitive. I can’t necessarily say that it is a breakthrough album or anything, but it is certainly worth your time and is a very enjoyable album, though. I can’t imagine it being forgettable, either.

Windhand – Windhand gets…

3.5/5

-CD

 

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