Review Summary: Windhand show some early signs of development in their sophomore effort.
Influence is the most powerful affection we’ll encounter in our life. From the very first moments of our arrival into this world, we’re influenced by our surroundings. Everything that happens to us for the first time is tremendously important for our development. As we grow, we start slowly exploring the world and along the process, we are learning about the lurking dangers of our society. Our quest is to find the means to ease the painful agony, which is only caused by our troubling nature. In this pitiful quest, where the first contact is of vital importance, we are trying to reach the next level of our efficiency. This is our ultimate goal; to go further and further and eventually, when we’ll depart, leave behind something worthy of being mentioned, our mark on this world. Sometimes though, we are just inefficient of accomplishing our goals. Sometimes we just need a little push. We need a stimulus, something to invigorate our will, a sway that will help us to assess a situation from a different angle. But influence is a backstabbing bitch. Relying too much on our influences will lead to a hibernate state of mind. Quite simply, we will have unlocked the limits of our imagination.
In music, the power of the influence is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The newer generations tend to worship the achievements of the old timers and aspire to do things in an old fashioned manner. Hypothetically, the ways of the old should be theirs too. We have seen very few occasions of new musicians who have the ability of charting their own courses and head towards the unknown. Subsequently, the number of those who can start from scratch and create a signature sound from their very first album drops to zero. Of course, if we look to the past, we will discover very few
artists worthy of being mentioned as pioneers. It requires talent and the ability of isolating your influences to the highest degree in order to create something out of thin air.
Windhand choose to serve a difficult career path. The hybrid genre of Stoner/Doom has been one of the most preferable styles for novices from the past decade. The challenging lies on the fact that they have to try to prevent any accusations against them being nothing more but a clone band. The style they have chosen has been topped in the past on several occasions. So what fresh food can Windhand bring to the table ? With their solid debut in 2012, Windhand made a promising start, but their ridiculously obvious influences restrained their efforts. They had to make a statement that they are not just stoners, but musicians. It was their second album where Windhand had to leave the old habbits behind and broaden their horizons.
, Windhand made a step onwards the right direction. Their approach was very thoughtful as they had planned to take a specific direction and the final results speak for themselves. Soma
is undoubtedly superior to their S/T. The absolutely basics remain of course untouched. The album is literally soaked in that characteristic, smoky distortion, a sound so dense and so monolithic, that only the most dedicated amp worshipers can withstand and appreciate. The riffing machine works constantly, giving the band an air of supremacy. The number of solos is been reduced, however their absence goes unnoticed because of the improved songwriting. The production is less primitive, but its sacrifice is not in vain. Windhand retaliates in the best possible way by adding much more melody, colorful textures and interludes, elements that were vastly missing from their debut. I’m not 100% sure, but to my ears, Windhand tried to make this record more accessible. Try not to confuse the word “accessible” with “ordinary”, “usual”, or “conventional”, because Soma
is anything but traditional. From my perspective, I would say that the guitarists put a considerable amount of effort at writing pop-like riffs and hooks, so that anyone can relate to the themes. But that’s just my assumption.
If there is something that ties together the first two Windhand albums, that’s the haunting atmosphere. The spellbinding effects will make you feel isolated, while the blending music works as a drug that hypnotizes the listener in a strange wave of euphoria. Quite contradicting, but in the world of Soma
it works just fine. Dorthia Cottrell’s ethereal wail just floats over the tracks. Her presence feels like an invisible entity, a ghost-like creature that welcomes you to its cold embrace. Although her vocals seem to be distanced again from the microphone, the effect works this time in a much more positive way. Cottrell's most shining moment comes on the forth track, where we get the chance of hearing her vocals to the fullest on the acoustic Evergreen
. This is a unique track, mainly for two reasons. Firstly, it gives us the chance to breathe some fresh air before taking another long dive into the hazy cave that follows. Secondly and although it’s a fully acoustic piece, Evergreen
does not depart from the sorrowful nature of the whole album. In fact, I could say that Evergreen
MOST mournful tune. This particular track and the other acoustic moments of this record summarize Windhand’s different approach. These acoustic moments were made so that the band can show that they are not relying solely on their influences to write music. After that, we take one last, deep inhale for our second descent, which lasts 44 minutes. Although not as digestible as the first three songs, Cassock
offer a both stretched out and pleasurable trip.
To bring the proceedings to an end, 2013 saw Windhand wasting precious little time as they released their sophomore effort. Soma,
is a refined follow-up that goes further in seemingly every direction. What will come next will be of crucial importance; will the band explore any new, intricate ideas or are they going to delve deeper and expand their catalogue ? For the time being, the Stoner/Doom devotees must explore this album.