Windhand - Soma | Review

There are enough female-fronted doom-based bands around anymore that it almost becomes its own subgenre. You could probably name a half-dozen in the blink of an eye. While the gender behind the mic is essentially irrelevant there is something about a beautiful female voice countering unfathomable heaviness that enhances the feelings of sorrow and mourning (and sometimes evil) that the best doom evokes from the listener. That being said, the latest voice to grace our ears over crushing doom this year is Dorthia Cottrell on Windhand’s latest, Soma.

The Virginia group’s Relapse debut is nothing short of transcendental. You’ll likely see that word a lot in regards to Soma but that’s because it’s true. The tones alone on this record are enough to induce out of body experiences and carry the listener away. Guitarists Garrett Morris and Asechiah Bogdan (ex-Alabama Thunderpussy) along with new bassist Parker Chandler (Cough) put on a veritable clinic in amp-worship. Monstrously deep and vibratory tone solidifies into dominant doom riffs thick with bong resin. And I hope drummer Ryan Wolfe (The Mighty Could) has good sponsors because he abuses that kit with admirable ferocity and impeccable timing.

Monumental riffs and gorgeous vocal melodies are the order of the day. They’re deceptively catchy, and coupled with the stoner-friendly groove, they pull you in with all the power of a black hole. Once you’ve fallen into its embrace, escape is impossible. After a few listens the hypnotic stoner/doom casts a spell and the act of enjoying Soma becomes a ritual of escapism. Tension and worry fall away, melted off by the warm tones and Cottrell’s soothing voice. However, faster sections and haunting passages call forth their own drama from the abyss.

Amid the mountainous, leaden doom lies “Evergreen”. Seven minutes of gentle acoustic guitar and Cottrell’s charming grace. Thirty minute closer “Boleskine” is seismic in its effect and evolutionary in its speed. A central riff drones on for over 12 minutes on the track’s latter half. It feels like a warrior honing his blade. Muscle memory and instinct take over freeing the mind to contemplate past glories, future plans or silently mourn a loss.

Soma is as beautiful and powerful as a mountain thick with an ancient forest, enchanting and entrancing. Losing yourself in this incredible album is inevitable. Fans of muscular tone cranked to 13 and massive riffs have found their home. They say Virginia is for lovers, well, Soma is for loving.

Matt Hinch

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Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Ghost Cult Magazine, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @MetalMatt_KofN.