Windhand know their way around the doom metal scene as well as anyone. Their third full length album arrives with a confident swagger and a sound which has been refined to a point at which it may be called their own.
Hitting play on Grief’s Infernal Flower is almost akin to splitting the atom – provided, of course, that the scientist doing so is on your side. It represents the harnessing of a power so personal yet so far reaching – easy to understand why this album has been widely hailed as the band’s best yet.
Two Urns is a thumping opening. It’s a soulful thrust into the innards of an album with more atmosphere than an Old Firm derby.
Droning, angry yet sorrowful chords merge into a single riff to pave the way for front woman Dorthia Cottrell – and boy, what an entrance! Her vocal arrives with an irresistible sense of domineering control, serving as an assertive arm around your shoulder – it’s powerful, driven and a law unto itself.
This album doesn’t flow – it breathes, unearthing a non-throwback familiarity to the hard and hazy early ’90s. This sprinkling of warmth is unsurprising when I tell you that Grief’s Infernal Flower is produced by Jack Endino – yes, THE Jack Endino, producer of Nirvana’s Bleach Soundgarden’s Screaming Life.
Of course, even an album built upon such raw menace requires an anchoring point. Key track is the beautifully diverse Crypt Key. It emerges from a dark, deep and moody acoustic crack and flows to a crescendo of explosive grit and all of the relentless power of the volcanic beast lurking beneath Yellowstone national park.
Time is certainly not of the essence where this gem is concerned. Windhand have managed to differentiate between what is a forceful power and what is unnecessarily forced. Tracks Hesperus and Kingfisher both exceed a length of 14 minutes – not that you would have noticed had I not told you.
Grief’s Infernal Flower is Windhand’s defining album to date – play it loud and play it often – it leaves a delicious metallic aftertaste.
Grief’s Infernal Flower is available through Relapse Records.