Windhand - Grief’s Infernal Flower
From the moment Two Urns crackles into life you are spirited away on an unforgettable journey of atmospheric sludgy doom. Long, fuzzed out stoner jams, create wonderful imagery in the mind that drip into your subconscious like the hot melting wax from the candle on a wizard’s skull ornament.
Founded in 2009 in Richmond, USA Windhand are weaving an intricate web through the world of doom, taking in the sounds of Electric Wizard and stretching back into the past to the Blacketh of Sabbaths. In support of 2013’s Soma LP, Windhand have shared stages with the likes of Sleep, High on Fire and Kvelertak and now in 2015 they are serving up long-player Grief’s Infernal Flower.
Jack Endino, with production credits for the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden to his name, captains the console for this journey. His work allows Dorthia Cottrell’s beautifully delivered vocals to breathe sensuously over the enormous power of the relentless, trudging riffery throughout. This seems a miraculous achievement really as it is an extraordinarily heavy LP but an epic beauty is allowed to shine through and in spite of the unhurried pace there still feels like there is a sense of purpose and direction to it all.
At times the music slows almost to a stop, showing remarkable restraint from the musicians involved. Playing fast is almost an irrepressible urge, in particular with guitarists(!), so hats off to Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris for crafting some of the slowest, doomiest riffs committed to disc. The dueling wah-saturated solos on Forest Clouds swirl in and out of the riff like a smoke serpent while gentle acoustic strums breathe life into Crypt Key till it becomes a lumbering Frankenstein’s monster. A big shout goes out to the rhythm section of Ryan Wolfe on drums and Parker Chandler for celebrating the low end that crushes all beneath it’s muddy boots throughout this album.
Sparrow is a delicately strummed affair that surely establishes Dorthia as one of the best vocal talents in the genre. It’s a beautiful song that simultaneously exudes the frailty of its ornithological title and yet contains an assertive power as forthright as the song is simple. Its soft folk style somehow blends well within the heaviness that bookends the track. It’s a truly stunning 2015 musical highlight.
This is one of those releases that will keep on giving once you get to know it. Dig through the top crust of heavy and beneath you will find layers of detail that will keep you returning. Subtle guitar effects here and there and mind-altering intros give it a soundtrack feel and a definite touch of the epic.
Talking of epic, Hesperus and Kingfisher take up 14 minutes each. The former feels like trying to climb out of a cloudy bong where the glass has been greased while the latter makes spectacular use of effects and harmonies to evoke a powerful as nature atmosphere, producing a trance like state in any listener who gets caught up in it’s psychadelic tendrils.
Aition signs the LP off and is another confident acoustic number from Dorthia. Soft winds blow over the lullaby-style vocal and dreamy chords as the album closes like a child’s eyes at bedtime.
Grief’s Infernal Flower is a finely crafted release, with a great production job to boot. Windhand have produced possibly the doom album of the year with this release and they have done this by illustrating the many ways of defining what it is to be heavy. It manages to be soulful, groovy and trippy at the same time which is masterful. It will bang heads, sway hips and take you places in your mind – some of them dark and some of them enlightening but all of them wonderful.
Words: Paul Cooke