If any of you recently had the thought “I wonder what’s Denver been up to recently” the answer is still “dropping some massive riffs”. In all seriousness, it’s pretty amazing how hard the scene over there continues to grow; from the initial explosion of bands from out of the city, through the entire metal community catching on to whatever was going on over there, and all the way to now, when the Denver scene’s music is legend, Colorado’s premier hive of scum and villainy doesn’t seem to be giving an inch. Case in point: Green Druid, who’s 2018 release burst onto the scene right when the massive popularity of the Denver community at large spiked. Ashen Blood was a great addition to that tidal wave of amazing music, channeling the same kind of warm, heavy, and often incredibly abrasive style of music that has often emerged from those parts (I’m thinking The Flight of Sleipnir and Dreadnought when I say that).
Well, the riff merchants over at Green Druid are back, released a new album in just a few days as of the time of me writing this and guess what; it rules. At the Maw of Ruin is easily identifiable as Green Druid, leaning on the same fundamentals that made the previous release so great. Namely, those fundamentals are a basic doom metal sensibility, meaning slow, towering riffs filled with fuzz, and a psychedelic smattering in the form of ambient passages and trippy vocals. But on At the Maw of Ruin those more psychedelic elements are given freer flight, defining as much of the album by their creeping absence as the massive riffs do with their cavernous presence.
The end result is a big step forward, an album that’s more intricate and inviting of exploration. A good example is the opening track “The Forest Dark”, which we premiered on the blog a few weeks ago. We covered it then extensively but I want to draw your attention here to the final two minutes or so of the album. Listen to the way the clean vocals emerge and connect to the more ambient passages that dominated the middle of the track and how the harsh vocals at the track’s very end “latch on” to their sound. It creates first and ethereal, emotive climax in the form of the clean vocals, gliding above the heights of the track, before the harsh vocals transform the mood, scraping those summits of expression with their heaviness. The contrast created is beautiful and works even better with “End of Men”‘s fuzzy intro, before the sludge infused riff that ushers in that second track.
This type of moments, of deeper contrast and musical cleverness, are all over this release. Another such moment I love can be found on “Desert of Fury/Ocean of Despair” along the five minute mark. Following the calmer, more psychedelic first movement of the track, the band seem to insinuate that the first heavy riff on the track is making a come back. But instead, they shift into this new riff based on it but where the drums and the bass are doing something completely different and badass. It gives the riff this incredibly powerful vibe before sinking once again into the depths of the chords tolling like bells to usher in the track’s middle passage.
I could go on; the album is filled with these great compositional ideas and moments. But this is an album you’re all going to get to experience for yourself very soon so I won’t belabor you with words. Like all bass, fuzz, and riff heavy albums, this is one you have to feel for yourself. But unlike many other albums in the genre, and in true Denver fashion, this album will also keep you on your toes and listening carefully. There’s much to be discovered underneath the surface and in its meta structure, so keep those ears peeled.
Green Druid’s At the Maw of Ruin drops on December 4th. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp page to pre-order it before it does.