Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Stoner Metal, Sludge Metal
Before ever having actually heard Windhand, I stumbled across an ad for their first release, a self-titled released on a label called Force Field. What happened next seldom happens to me, if ever at all. I was instantly driven to order it, sound unheard, based on album art alone. I’m not usually that impulse driven, but there was just something about their spectral white logo (unfortunately omitted from gracing this album cover), floating over a shot of some dilapidated house (a la Black Sabbath’s debut).
Windhand return with a dose of hypnotic and murky doom on their sophomore effort, Soma, named for a drink whose consumption is often described as a religious experience. Where the soma of legend is more of an invigorating experience, the album takes listeners in an altogether different direction, entrancing them with a monolithic wall of impossibly dense, distorted amp worship whose sheer enormity can barely pass through mortal speakers. Living up to the implications of its title, though, Soma is an album that feels almost ritualistic, deriving power through repetition as the songs build a steady momentum that leaves them feeling unstoppable once they've gotten up to speed.
Chiselling space for itself between occult rock and doom metal, the second full-length from Richmond, VA's Windhand is defined by spooky confidence and granite heaviness. The riffs possess millstone weight, grinding steadily and smoothly through each of the six thick, looping tracks. The tone on Soma is as deep and rich as blackstrap molasses, slowly oozing through the cavernous grooves and slow evolution of each song.
Soma shows all the signs of an attempted slow metal classic: On their second album and first for Relapse, Richmond, Va., quintet Windhand coughs up three low-tempo burners, follows them with a foreboding acoustic creak, and aims to end with its longest and strongest-- a 14-minute rumbling insurgency called “Cassock” and the 31-minute astro fade “Boleskin”. The record spotlights every asset of the band, too. The dual guitars are enormous, with the tube-amp tones delivering the riffs in massive waves and presenting the solos less as interruptions and more as big, breaking-news events.