Review Summary: Melodically engrained in your head.
There is something admirable about the Deathwish Inc. lineup. Consistently the record company has released the heaviest and more energy driven music since its inception back in 1999. Their catalog of releases sports hardcore, death metal, in fact it supports anything heavy with a meaning. The bands always have a lot of art to put out as well. Self Defense Family just released an album this past January, and the music was shocking, especially being lead by the interview with porn star Angelique Bernstein. Cult Leader just released a stunning 6 song album that spews heavy, dark riffs by members from previous Gaza. Last year saw Modern Life Is War, Touche Amore, and Deafheaven all put out fantastic releases, earning their ways onto many end of the year lists.
As I stated, Deathwish has always brought art into their heavy music, and the addition of Wovenhand is just another fine example. The band does not scream their way into your brain, but their unique post-punk/folk/alternative country grooves are enough to spark an interest for many fans. The band is an experimental group from Denver, Colorado. April 29th marks the release date of their brand new album, Refractory Obdurate. Frontman Eugene Edwards brings an interesting mix by the way he approaches the microphone. His voice is dark, tranquil and reminiscent of gospel singers. That is because he is a devoutly religious man with a purpose. Outspoken is a word that does not describe his delivery, rather he is humble and serene. He writes with a lot of symbolism, almost to the point where hyperbole is needed to even grasp the true intent. Even the way Edwards bends his voice between pitches is noteworthy.
His vocals are not even the full grit of the music. The music feels old, sounds old, and even uses out of the ordinary instruments for a 'metal' album. Banjos, slide guitars, percussion instruments and 50s crunchy sounding guitars make their own stand on the album. Closing track 'El-bow' has a vibe of an old time camp fire song that the most notorious outlaw would stop to appreciate. 'Good Shepard' almost features what in modern terms would be defined as a breakdown as the guitars rage about on an open chord, pounding, pounding, and pounding with a great lead that gets ingrained in your head. 'The Refractory' is a dark country song mastering loud and quiet dynamics perfectly. Like a mix of gothic folk songs? Check out 'Hiss' which features bright, full sounding chords backed by a constant chug rhythm helped along by the rolling drums. When the various instruments come together to form the root theme of 'Masonic Youth,' it is a driving melody of sound that drives you to hum along as Edwards soars above with a strong vocal performance. The song explodes towards the end as the drums gallop forward, crafting a harmonious riot.
Take a listen to the opening track 'Corsicana Clip' and be pressured into wanting to hear more. The pressure isn't the kind you would feel from your friends trying to give you that last shot, but instead that awkward unknown of what is going to happen as you walk towards that first bonfire with a group of people you mostly don't know. Gather around, warm up, and embrace the emotional 43 minute album, Refractory Obdurate.