Release Date: Jul 23, 2013
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Heavy Metal, Experimental Rock, Sludge Metal, Shoegaze
“I was ruined at a tender, adolescent age by the phrase “stoned-lava flow”, as applied by a reviewer in a magazine to the guitars on Teenage Fanclub’s “Fear of Flying” (the review appears to have vanished from the internet; apologies to the involuntarily anonymous writer). That phrase—the idea of that phrase—seized me so strongly and was only partially fulfilled by that (admittedly great) song that it’s been echoing through my reactions to songs since and was most recently and sharply triggered by True Widow’s “Fourth Teeth” and, subsequently, the rest of the Dallas trio’s third album, Circumambulation. There are few minor joys afforded to the longtime music fan as sweetly pleasurable as unexpectedly stumbling onto the perfect articulation of something you’ve been half-unconsciously searching for most of your life; if I could wrap the guitars on this album around me like a blanket, I would.
There’s been a shift toward exploring sludgy, metal-steeped sounds, made accessible by balancing equal footing with shoegaze and drone overtones (see: Deafheaven, Pallbearer). Texas trio True Widow has released a quiet masterpiece of a third album, Circumabulation, an unassuming take on those shoegaze-singed soundscapes. It comes on slow, seeping into your memory through dusty riffs as expansive as Texas plains.
Following up on the gorgeous (and epically titled) A.H.A.T.H.H.A.F.T.C.T.T.C.O.T.E., True Widow take their sound in a more propulsive direction with Circumambulation, the Texan trio's debut for Relapse Records. While True Widow are still working in their signature blend of stoner metal, drone, and shoegaze, they change the formula up with an increase in tempo. While not exactly fast, there's a certain momentum to the album that's hard to ignore, especially given the somewhat glacial pacing of their earlier work.
There are various emotions that we all understand. Anger, sadness, happiness — these are feelings we have all experienced and have a relative context of understanding. Then there are the emotions that are almost impossible to comprehend. Melancholy, contentment, bliss, euphoria, awe, these emotions are far more difficult to define.
When placing emphasis on doom metal as a stylistic device, there’s always the expectation that it will be paced in a sluggish manner. We’re conditioned to the creeping slowness and disharmony that afflicts our senses, kept in a droning, unchanging tone that’s anything but dynamic. Texan trio True Widow have been gradually mastering the exercise of calculated pacing without even considering the genre’s usual trappings, though they’ve come close to emulating it by sheer coincidence.
The world turns slowly for True Widow, the three-piece Texas band who find virtue in pairing grit with sluggishness. Even the title of their second album, As High as the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth, needs a careful and deliberate reading on first glance. The pace has quickened a little on Circumambulation, True Widow's debut for metal enclave Relapse Records, but it's so slight that it resembles a tortoise momentarily gaining a spring in its step.
As an album title, Circumambulation doesn't really roll off the tongue. (Though it's still nowhere near the mouthful of Dallas stoner rock trio True Widow's 2011 LP, titled - deep breath - As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth.) The paring down is reflected on the new record. Here True Widow dispel some of the pot-smoky fog, putting across a crisper, tighter, discernibly quicker sound.