January 24, 2012 | | 4

Windhand, Windhand

Windhand: Windhand

Utterly Sabbathian in just about every way, Richmond, Virginia’s Windhand deliver so much more than your standard, aped doom riffage. The band’s self-titled debut is full of massive guitars, crawling rhythms and more than enough bong smoke to rapidly accelerate global warming. Yet for as huge a wall of sound as this album delivers, it’s the vocals of frontwoman Dorthia Cottrell that really captivate. Distant and omnipresent throughout the album, her delivery gives the punishing doom of Windhand a psychedelic edge that is just about perfect.

Distant thunder and the ever growing sound of cicadas fills the speakers for a few moments before memorable, Electric Wizard influenced riffs (from the tandem team of Garret Morris and ex-Alabama Thunderpussy guitarist Asechiah Bogdan) make their presence known on the opening track, “Black Candles.” The rhythm section (Ryan Wolfe on drums and Nathan Hilbish on bass) rumbles as Cottrell wails in the distance (yet is clearly heard in the production) and the riffs deliver bowel churning power. Mournful and full, this song carries some serious weight with it — be sure to check out the soulful lead about halfway through. The opening riffs to “Libusen” carry an Electric Wizard feel, as well, but Windhand do well to make the sound their own with thundering bass and Cottrell’s ethereal vocals.

It’s not until “Heap Wolves” that we really get some dynamic interaction between the music and vocals, as Cottrell’s wailing weaves in and out amongst the buzzing guitars and plodding rhythms. This is also one of the thicker, more suffocating songs on the album, as well as the shortest at just under five minutes run time. The 10 minute plus “Summon the Moon” delivers a solid opening bass run before Windhand get down to business with crawling riffs and an even more psychedelic delivery from Cottrell that gives the overall song a creepy vibe. The song also has a catchy chorus that you’ll soon be singing along with.

Album closer and immensely awesome “Winter Sun” opens up slowly with ambient wind and noise for a minute to build the anticipation of what’s to come. And what does arrive is an initial avalanche of slow moving riffs as the band slowly build to a solid (though crawling) groove as Cottrell’s vocals come in with a bit more of a rock swagger, especially during the infectious chorus. This is one hell of a catchy track. The lead around the six minute mark is sick as hell, fitting in with this doom dirge nicely. The stretch of mayhem between nine and ten minutes carries plenty of guitar noise and background growls — not sure if that’s Cottrell or another member of the band, but it’s a nice addition to the track.

When you have a unique voice like Windhand it doesn’t make a difference how much Black Sabbath you wear on your sleeve. The music on this band’s debut is infectious, dense and powerful, but it’s Cottrell’s delivery that really makes it something to remember. I’ve been playing these five songs over and over the past couple of weeks. One play on your part and you’ll see why.