By Dr. Abner Mality

I don't know how they keep doing it, but Windhand have blown my mind again. I think this might be the most important doom band since Electric Wizard, maybe since Sabbath itself. There is no way to measure the heaviness and sparse, austere eeriness of "Soma"'d have more luck using measuring tape to see how far it is to the Andromeda galaxy.

Now on Relapse, this should be the breakout album for these guys. I really think once the masses hear this, they will be entranced, kind of the same way that Thulsa Doom mesmerized his followers in "Conan the Barbarian". But even Thulsa Doom was shown to be a charlatan in the end. There is nothing but truth and reality in what Windhand create here. I had some reservations that their simple formula would run out of gas eventually. Somehow, even though they rigorously adhere to the same style they demonstrated on their self-titled debut and their recent split with Cough, they have tapped into something inexhaustible in the brain. These incredibly thick, warm riffs are beyond hypnotic and in combination with Dorthea's witch-like vocals, you cannot escape this siren call.

With opener "Orchard", you are immediately engulfed by the sonic fog of Windhand. Your head nods, your body begins to sway...the mind is taken to lonely mountains, deep forests and abandoned structures. "Woodbine" is heavier, longer, a bit more savage, with an onslaught of acidic guitar adding more danger to the equation. It is a sublime, so entrancing. "Feral Bones" is more stripped down and a tad more psychedelic, but still holding to the Windhand creed of eerie heaviness.

The first noticeable break comes with the very spare and spooky acoustic ballad, "Evergreen". No electricity disrupts the purity of this reeks of the deepest hollows of Appalachia. Not "heavy" in the traditional sense, but ominous just the same and Dorthea's ethereal vocals remain in full force. The down-tuned thunder returns in spades with "Cassock", another crushing epic of catchy, basic DOOM that grabs you by the spinal cord and shakes hard. This track is 13 minutes of shrouded gloom but it's just a warm up for final cut "Boleskine".

This one will really put your endurance to the test with a mind-boggling 30 MINUTES PLUS of Windhand's somber power. There's more sparse, barely-there acoustic work here, too, but the majority is based around more patented riffing that repeats into infinity. Dorthea takes a powder during the last 15 minutes, as a long, LONG fade out ensues. The repeating theme very gradually disappears as the sound of lonely wind finally overcomes all. That wind is a metaphor for Windhand itself. Nothing can hold back the wind, it wears down everything in time. And that is just what "Soma" will do to your brain.

This is drugs without chemicals. Pure, utter DOOM of the highest quality. I can literally say no more.