In 2017 I was fortunate enough to see Windhand and Satan’s Satyrs play a rather excellent show at The Audio, Glasgow, where each act was clearly at the top of their game, opener’s Satan’s Satyrs being imbued with a new energy and fire as a four piece with the addition of a second guitarist, and Windhand being at their most mysterious and enigmatic. Clearly this association between two of Virginia’s finest underground acts has continued apace, as despite their very disparate styles, they continue to tour together, as well as producing a split release via Relapse.
First two tracks of the release (side ‘A’ if you are old git like me, or a new worshipper of vinyl) belongs to Windhand in the form of ‘Old Evil’, and ‘Three Sisters’. The opener has everything you could want as either a fan of Windhand, or classic doom in general: the riffs are slow and down-tuned, the rhythm section solid, slow, and heavy, whilst Dorthia Cottrell delivers lyrics of magic and mystery with her trademark nether-worldly grace. What more could you want? Windhand answer that hypothetical question with follow up ‘Three Sisters’, where the pacing of the song is positively funereal, each and every note and chord dragged out to its fullest, the music now bolstered with the drawn out cry of a Hammond organ, whilst Dorthia’s vocals move even higher in her range, adding an ethereal quality to the whole proceedings. At a massive fourteen minutes long, and a pace that couldn’t outrun a one legged zombie, you’d think that the song would outstay its welcome, but it’s delivered with such skill and passion that time is forgotten, and the song comes to an end all too soon, demanding immediate replays.
In stark contrast, Satan’s Satyrs blast through their three tracks in barely ten minutes of fire and fury, mixing lashings of the attitude of The Stooges and lo-fi pomp of The New York Dolls, all wrapped up in a fuzzed out rock blanket. ‘Alucard AD 2018’ leads the charge with a pile of swagger, interchanging guitar solos thanks to their bolstered line up being a brand new element over prior releases, and a sign post towards so much future potential. ‘Succubus’ throws occult rock into the mix, the lyrics sneered out in Clayton Burgess’s street punk whine practically the script to a seventies “Bikers vs the Devil” movie. Not all is darkness and horror though, ‘Ain’t That Loving You, Baby’ putting a grinning, sleazy strut into the sound; this is a track that not only finishes the release at on a triumphant high, but could close any of their sets in the future with a well deserved “thank you and goodnight” shouted to a satisfied and sweaty crowd.
Since I’ve done nothing but heap praise on this ‘Split’, you might well be wondering why I haven’t given it one of those rare, near mythical “10/10” scores? It’s simple really; I’m a greedy bastard, and this taster of the bands left me wanting more. However, as a way to tide me through until each act hits the studio for their next full length releases, ‘Split’ does very nicely indeed.