Heavy Hearts: Devil’s Tower, Stevie Nicole Bailey, Black Mare, Divine Circles
I know I spend most of my time writing about what Gurp aptly titled “GROWLBLASTTREMOLO,” but I’ve also got a deep appreciation for the softer side of things. If I’m not listening to metal or crust, I’m almost certainly listening to country or to some kind of sad, acoustic folk (though I do like that Beyonce song “Flawless”). There are common threads holding it all together, though. You don’t always need a stack of Marshalls or mountain of effect pedals to play heavy music. Sometimes, heavy’s more than just a sound. It’s a state of being.
The following songs come from projects that, while they’re not too loud and aren’t very metal, are filled to the brim with an aching pathos or vulnerable beauty that I can’t quite turn away from. They come from people who have taken time away from their main (metal) bands to explore that duality of darkness and light from a fresh perspective, and in doing so, created something wonderful.
Gazelle Amber Valentine is best known as Jucifer’s high priestess, the Queen of Amp Mountain and a hellion on the ol’ electric. With Devil’s Tower, she picks up an acoustic, lowers the volume, and lets her warm, sweet Georgia drawl lead the way. I especially love “The Ta-Ta Song,” a wry cautionary tale voiced by Valentine’s fiery feminist side.
STEVIE NICOLE BAILEY
Laser Flames on the Great Big News straight blew me away the last time I saw them play Nashville, and Stevie Nicole Bailey’s voice was a big part of that. Her solo stuff is moody, sparse Americana, crossbred with alt country and a little bit of indie pop sweetness.
Sera Timms from Ides of Gemini and Black Math Horseman has always been possessed of an incredible voice and impressive command of her bass guitar, but with Black Mare, she truly outdoes herself. Her first solo effort is ghostly, mesmerizing dark folk filtered through doom, gloom, and desert air.
Composer and violinist Megan Mulhearn spends most of her time bending strings in USX, Judas Horse, Lunar Creature, Meghanz, and Critics, but Divine Circles is her newest creation. Armed with a warm, expressive voice and a mastery of her instrument, Mulhearn utilizes innovative techniques, gorgeous harmonies, and an Appalachian soul to create something absolutely spellbinding.