“Grief’s Infernal Flower”

By Dr. Abner Mality

I have run out of words to describe Windhand. The same ones keep coming up over and over again…haunting, massive, crushing, ethereal. You practically need to invent a new vocabulary to talk about them. I will just say this…this may very well be the most important doom metal band since Black Sabbath itself.

“Grief’s Infernal Flower” sees Windhand building upon the strengths of their last album “Soma”. Every quality that album had, this one doubles it. The result is something that shakes you to the core. It is just so amazingly heavy…trance-inducing, almost consciousness-altering. The band does doom without the usual tired clichés of pentagrams, goat skulls, and naked hippie chicks. Like the subdued cover art, there is a pervasive doom and feeling of unease that accompanies the band’s monolithic slow motion epics of crushing riffology. The bewitching vocals of Dorthea Cottrell integrate so smoothly and seamlessly into that crush that you may overlook how well it’s done.

The Windhand sound is here in force. You might say it shows a lack of creativity. I might agree if it were any other band than this. They have not plumbed the depths of this gloomy sound yet. The opening cut “Two Urns” to me is the best song this band has done so far and that is saying something. The incredibly effective and simplistic riffs combined with Dorthea’s shamanistic crooning are just totally devastating. I could listen to this track 20 times in a row without boredom setting in. “Forest Clouds” deals out even more colossal riffing mixed with a generous amount of psych-drenched acid rock guitar soloing. The album is structured in an unorthodox way….”Two Urns” is a long song, then we have some moderate length tunes like “Crypt Key” and “Tanngrisnir” before the first purely acoustic track “Sparrow” arises.

The pure acoustic stuff first arose on “Soma” and is further explored here. This song is so sparse and Dorthea’s vocals so ghost-like that the feeling of oppression is maintained. “Hyperion” gives us more ultra-heavy and ultra-catchy doom before Windhand really unloads with two gigantic cuts, “Hesperus” and “Kingfisher”. The first is a wall of down-tuned doom based on an elemental riff that is repeated almost into infinity. Some may be bored…I was went sent into a swaying trance. “Kingfisher” is just as long but different. The first half is the sludgy gloom metal we expect but the second is devoted almost entirely to scratchy effects drenched lead work that is weird and unsettling. The album then ends with another solemn acoustic ballad, “Aition”, which is almost like an evil lullaby with Dorthea crooning very dark lyrics.

This is a defining moment in the evolution of doom metal. I don’t know if Windhand can top it, but it will be interesting to see them try.