Split by Windhand and Satan's SatyrsRelease date: February 16, 2018
Label: Relpase Records
It’s a bumper month for exciting split releases, with the Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastards / Slomatics split being released soon and reviewed previously here, and now we have a team-up of two of Virginia’s finest purveyors of noise – Windhand and Satan’s Satyrs.
Windhand have two tracks on side one – ‘Old Evil’ and the glacial ‘Three Sisters’, clocking in at a not-untypical 14 minutes. ‘Old Evil’ has been available to stream for some time now and I had lent it a casual ear a few times ahead of receiving this album. Initially it struck me as standard Windhand, if a bit snappier. However I have really grown to appreciate it on further listens. Lyrically it’s an interesting prospect as Dorthia Cottrell, in her high, clean vocals call out an evil over a grinding riff – “you who speak in our voices, you who slither and swarm“. From a distance you would think Windhand’s songs are mired in the supernatural, as they tend to give off a haunted churchyard vibe, but often their lyrics are slyer and more earthbound in their concerns. The ‘Old Evil’ in question may well be much closer to home than we expected.
There is sterling soloing towards the end of ‘Old Evil’ from guitarists Asechiah Bogan and Garrett Morris, which is often a highlight of the bands material, but on next tune ‘Three Sisters’ it is the vocals of Dorthia, seemingly pitched higher in the mix, and icy the keys, which hang above passages of the tune like a freezing fog, that are the central elements of the song. It contains one of Dorthia’s best ever vocal performances, warm, wise, bewitching and with a hint of malice under the melodies – whoever the Lorelei is who is accused of betrayal in the lyrics had better watch her back…
Previous full album, Grief’s Infernal Flower was a patchy affair, struggling to live up to it’s predecessor, the mighty Soma, but these two new tracks show that Windhand still have the potential to be one of the greatest doom metal bands of their generation.
And now we move away from the haunted churchyard to the Satanic sex dungeon, where artists in residence Satan’s Satyrs bring us three slices of filthy fun. Benefiting from a cleaner, crisper production than I’m used to hearing from these guys, added to the extra power a new second guitarist brings, each number here hits harder than a sacrificial knife to the heart. The bottom end riffage on ‘Alucard Ad 2018’ and ‘Succubus’ add a righteous doom metal heft to their murky garage rock, coming off like the MC5 being played by Electric Wizard.
Closing tune ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby’ sees the band delving further back into their influences, summoning this rhythm ‘n’ blues belter by Link Wray. Featuring buckets of sneer and swing, fans of everyone from Dr Feelgood to the Stooges will be down the front, t-shirt off in a sweaty mosh if they hit you with this one live. Special mention must go to drummer Stephen Fairfield who absolutely batters the shit out of his kit throughout, the embodiment of the spirit and dedication on display here.
Both bands bands do enough here to make you wish there was another side of their music to flip to, but Windhand edge it for me. I believe you can get it now via Relapse Records.