Saturday, 14 September 2013

Windhand - Soma (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 17/9/2013
Label : Relapse Records

Soma, album track listing :  
1) Orchid
2) Woodbine
3) Feral Bones
4) Evergreen
5) Cassock
6) Boleskine

Bio :

WINDHAND’S debut Relapse full length is nothing short of transcendent.  On its surface it is a top 5 of all time doom record, but this record is for more than just doom-metal fanatics though—this is an epic record for all fans of guitar driven rock and roll.  On Soma WINDHAND successfully make syrupy slow, downtuned doom hooky and anthemic.  Propelled by singer Dorthia Cottrell’s beautifully haunting bellow, WINDHAND’s dual guitar attack sounds like the glorious misfit offspring of Black Sabbath and Nirvana.  An easy candidate for heavy music record of the year

The Band :

Asechiah Bogdan: Guitar
Dorthia Cottrell: Vocals
Chandler: Bass
Ryan Wolfe: Drums
Garrett Morris: Guitar

Review : 

Music is a form of escapism. It offers you something to become immersed in to help forget about the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Every so often, a record comes along that is just perfect for this; Windhand’s Soma is most definitely one of those. Slow, brooding and fuzzy-as-chewbacca riffs create monolithic sonic landscapes, inviting you into a contemplative mind set. Although the record consists of a mere 5 tracks, it is an impressive 75 minutes long. Each track is a marathon within itself, repetitive, seemingly endless grooves envelope you fantastically.

Their first solo offering for Relapse Records - having released Reflection of the Negative with Cough in April - it follows their self-released 2012 debut Windhand. It picks up exactly where Windhand left off, which is something I’m confident will keep the converted happy while converting a new horde of fans. 

Information on this record is hard to find which only helps coat this album with an intriguing and compelling mysterious air. The low-end death-march of Orchard opens the album with a powerful taste of what is to come. It has an almost disturbing quality to it. The vocals are low in the mix, as if they too, are being enveloped by the music; it is an element of this band I love. As it progresses, lead lines take the helm. They provide a huge, grandiose melody which plays like a fanfare to some important royal figure. By this point you are left utterly transfixed and astounded by what this band has to offer.

Evergreen meanwhile sees a drop in the dynamics, the intensity of the first three tracks being swapped for a more mellow melancholy. Consequently it shows the band’s smart musicianship, they are far more than one trick ponies.

Clocking in at 30:30, Boleskine is one hell of a grand finale to the record. Acoustic guitars and prickly, fuzzed up riffs interweave out of one another in a truly artistic fashion. Feedback is as much a musical instrument as the guitars, drums and bass, conjuring a haunting, almost demonic atmosphere. Throughout the album, such as on the catchy holler of Feral Bones and the growling riffing of Cassock, groove is always emphasised beautifully. The songs of Soma are slow, evil and down right dirty, but the groove is always there in your tapping foot and banging head.

Furthermore, an album’s cover should never be ignored and with Soma, Windhand prove just why. The grey scale, cabin in the woods cover evokes a sense of loneliness and solitude, one which befits the records aesthetics.

In all, Soma is a fine offering. Their accessibility isn’t easy. To listen to these tracks can in fact be quite laborious due to their sluggish pace and vast lengths, but once you manage to become smothered, lost and inside this record, you will never want to leave.    

Words by : Philip Weller

The record is available here

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