Windhand

Soma

Written by: EW on 17/09/2013 22:06:16

Rumbling, crawling, rolling - three terms one could use to describe this new Windhand release. Stoked in the fires of bass heavy, repetitive crushing doom metal, ala Electric Wizard, these Virginian residents take a no holds barred approach to pounding out the riffs incessantly, and slowly, happily oblivious to the similarity in tone and feel that pervades across the whole 77 minutes (45 of which are comprised of the final two songs) and which ultimately renders this is a disappointing release.

The band's 2012 S/T debut album offered a pretty decent rendition of the archetype sludgy doom style, which while it did not set about rewriting any rulebooks it showed a considerable slice of groove to demonstrate a knowing mind in those matters. Sadly this is largely lacking here on "Soma", having been replaced by a surfeit of the most basic bass heavy riffs, which plod along without ever really going anywhere. Opener "Orchard", the only track of six to close in under 7 minutes, and its successor "Woodbine" see Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris pump out riffs like my heart does blood; each seemingly as vital as the last but with nothing to differentiate it from those either side. As quickly becomes apparent in an album so guitar heavy as "Soma" there is a distinct lack of variation in the riffs that have been penned. Feel free to allow yourself to skip to any point within a given song and see how the sound and tempo never seem to change. Infact you could go so far as to skip to random points within the whole album and a similar fate awaits.

This guitar and bass domination relegates Dorthia Cottrell's vocals to a background instrument as she fights to make herself heard in the morass of riffing. Stylistically her wail has a haunting depth to it akin to Sharie Neyland of The Wounded Kings, a band who could be described as the British equivalent to Windhand, but it is unfortunate she is not allowed to lead more often. "Evergreen" breaks the monotony with an Acid Bath-esque acoustic feel and gives Cottrell a more heavenly tone, probably due to being able to hear her with more clarity than before, before leading into the never-ending pair of "Cassock" and "Boleskine". "Cassock" begins fervently with a touch more sharpness to it's tempo but aside from a couple of breakdowns for some solos, themselves drowning in feedback, and extra hi-hat work from Ran Wolfe the song doesn't travel far. As for 31-minute closer "Boleskine", well, after a gentle acoustic opening it crashes into life around the 2:45 mark and plods, drones, and rolls to 23 minutes, only once stopping for an acoustic interlude, before slowly being submerged like a tectonic plate under the creeping influence of a droning, wind-lashed outro.

Such padding of the riffs is nothing new in doom where certain bands love to draw out the tempos for as long as possible, but a better quality of riff is required to make it last on this scale. They were closer to the mark last year on their debut but on "Soma" Windhand have done little to enhance their reputation with this turgid and unimaginative fare.

4

Download: Orchard, Woodbine
For The Fans Of: Electric Wizard, The Wounded Kings, Acid Bath
Listen: Facebook

Release date: 17.09.2013
Relapse Records

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