Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review of Windhand's Grief's Infernal Flower

Windhand has gotten wider exposure in the last couple years but not much has changed on their third studio album. The songs are still driven by the fuzz laden guitar drones, the production is still a bassy haze, the vocals sound like the incantation of a swamp witch, and the song lengths are as drawn out as ever. That said, Grief's Infernal Flower serves as a nice improvement of an already solid sound.

As expected, the release of singer Dorthia Cottrell's solo debut earlier this year does rub off on this album. Her voice is much higher in the mix than their first two efforts and there seems to be a greater emphasis on acoustic guitar. Previous albums included a full acoustic song or two, but "Sparrow" and the closing "Aition" feel like direct leftovers and "Crypt Key" features an extended soft intro before the heaviness kicks in. The lyrics are probably more personal and the vocal lines more complex on these songs but considering how the acoustic and electric guitar patterns really aren't that different from one another, it does make one wonder how they decide which format to go with.
And with that, it becomes apparent that Windhand is a dynamic band but still a one-trick pony in terms of tempo. Songs like "Tanngrisnir" and the bass heavy "Hyperion" have more drive and the back-to-back fourteen minute epics "Hesperus" and "Kingfisher" offer more elaborate structures, but they don't stray too far from the ultra-slow approach. Fortunately, the songs have excellent grooves but seventy minutes of music does make one hope for stronger fluctuation.

The power behind Grief's Infernal Flower justifies Windhand's status as a rising staple of modern doom but the songwriting still makes them a challenge for those outside the scene. The band sounds excellent and there are plenty of strong songs on here, but the band could afford to put in more riff variety on future efforts. It may be their most consistent effort to date though I'm pining for another Dorthia Cottrell album just a bit more...

"Crypt Key"

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