Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Stoner Metal, Sludge Metal
Windhand’s third full-length album, Grief’s Infernal Flower, is an achievement in modern doom metal. The record’s breath-like flow, spacious atmosphere, and hopeful melancholy coalesce into a visceral experience that begs to be lived with, shared, reflected on, meditated to, and then possessed like a personal artifact. Spend time with these recordings and they become a source of comfort, a steadiness in one’s life — steady like the methodical plod of the music itself.
Stoner thoughts, upon listening to Grief’s Infernal Flower: Did you ever notice that doom is mood spelled backwards?And what is the essence of metal but mood?Plus or minus aggression, of course. And depending on the sub-genre, that is. Is metal dead?Isn’t dead the most metal thing metal could be? Grief’s Infernal Flower reminds me of the early 90s.
Windhand's latest LP has been hyped up as one of the most important and exciting releases of the year. The Richmond, VA quintet have risen to fame as one of doom's most promising new bands over the past few years, and with that kind of clout behind them, they headed into the studio to record their third record with famed producer Jack Endino of Seattle, famous for his work with bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana. The ultimate question, as with cases like this, remained: Would the record actually live up to the hype?In the case of Grief's Infernal Flower, it absolutely does.
The draw of Windhand is neither mysterious nor complicated: Even on the Virginia doom squadron’s very early demos, the haunted, hypnotic voice of Dorthia Cottrell cut through thick guitars like a finger beckoning through the pale fog. "Black Candles", the first song of the band’s first release, transcended its lockstep Black Sabbath ancestry only when she arrived, shifting as she did from a soulful moan to a blues wail in one sublime instant. Even when the band became more elaborate for their 2011 full-length debut, both by adding samples and entering extended psychedelic tangents, Cottrell remained the focus of the action and attention.
2015 is the year doom broke. Albums by Pallbearer, YOB, Bell Witch, and Electric Wizard have garnered exceptional attention for a metal subgenre that's been around...well, forever. Richmond, Virginia's loud-and-proud Windhand, signed with Relapse after Soma, their grimy sophomore album, received rave reviews and made a slew of 2013 year-end lists. Expectations run high for Grief's Infernal Flower.
Doom may be the most consistently satisfying genre in metal – it’s relatively simple to get right, as long as you’ve mastered your power chords, can convincingly keep forward momentum going even at slow tempos and have a reasonably decent vocalist. It’s far more difficult, however, to be brilliant at it – the tools are so easy to use it can sometimes hinder any actual magic. Unless, of course, we’re speaking of Windhand.