Since the release of 2015’s ‘Grief’s Infernal Flower’, Virginian doom metal outfit Windhand have endured more than their fair share of upheaval; parting ways with one half of their founding guitar duo, Asechiah Bogdan, leaving Garrett Morris to carry the riffs solo, aided by bassist Parker Chandler. Rather than seeking to replace Bogdan, the band have forged ahead as a four piece, releasing fourth full-length ‘Eternal Return’.
Go back five years and a Windhand album felt like more a test of endurance than a listening experience, with tracks such as Boleskin stretching out to a staggering 30 minutes in length. Today they are an entirely different beast – while the album is still unmistakably Windhand, with absolutely enormous riffs and insanely heavy percussion, the removal of a guitarist has given more breathing room to their sound and you can tell that as a band they have enjoyed this, as much of the suffocating atmosphere laid on in production has been lifted to allow for Chandler’s more melodic basslines. Whereas vocalist Dorthia Cottrell’s voice often felt like it was blending alongside or even being pushed to the back of the instrumentals on previous releases, on ‘Eternal Return’ it absolutely soars, allowing for her velvety tones to be properly appreciated. With more clarity than they have ever had before, the four piece appear to have adopted slightly grungy tones – perhaps these were always there and now the smog has evaporated we’re only now just hearing them – regardless, the nods to Soundgarden’s ‘Superunknown’ are certainly appreciated.
As well as experimenting with their sound and venturing into new territory, this record is deeply personal Windhand. The band began writing the record following the passing of a close personal friend, and the prenatal heartbeat of Morris’ son is used as the intro for opening song ‘Halcyon’. It feels as though for the first time since they started Windhand finally feel comfortable to be themselves and this evident within how confident they appear on this opus. Without Bogdan in the fold they are unapologetically bold and it’s the best they have ever sounded.
(8.5/10 Angela Davey)