Album Review: Sniff Windhand’s Flower
That’ll teach me to make casual conversation with the bosses. This past spring, I remarked that it was nice to take a break from reviewing feces-immolating, gut-plunging, livestock-detonating metal to lay down praise for the new Failure record. In hindsight, my shrugging aside of brazen machismo might have been taken too seriously. In the intervening months – with a notable detour into an alternate reality where it’s okay to call your band Pissgrave – my worth to MetalSucks seems to lie in the attention I’m willing to give bands with a distinctly female persona. That I have enjoyed all of these albums probably doesn’t lend any credence to my peevish temper. Still, the trend is disquieting. Isn’t there new Agathocles coming out soon? (That’s a trick question – there’s always new Agathocles coming out soon.)
Last month, Richmond, VA’s Windhand returned – two years almost to the day since the critically lauded Soma – with an equally downcast dirge machine in the form of the 71-minute Grief’s Infernal Flower. Again, the slabs of unrelenting darkness pile up around Dorthia Cottrell’s languid, breathy alto. Smooth vocal melodies and bright clean guitar accents dip and skitter through the constant landfall of chords built out of concrete and dwarf star nuclei. Soma supporters know what they’re in for, and will likely relish the time they’ll spend sinking into these brave new whorls. If you never heard Soma… well, it’s not clear what you’re doing reading this review. Try to imagine Ufomammut without all the galactic meandering, as if the interdimensional warp drive on their deep-space probe was replaced with an engine perfect for mudbogging. Or maybe think of Witch Mountain dialing back on the lusty blues belting. Doom, bruh. The style’s as old as metal itself, and Windhand are looking to push back its expiration date another few months.
Honestly, I’m not nearly high enough to take all the mindtrips that GIF hides in its thick, shadowy folds. Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not actually high at all, and it feels like it wouldn’t really take more than a little recreational chemical ingestion to appreciate the album’s full effect. There are journeys here waiting for anyone with predilections for the red-eyed and slow. There are even a couple purely acoustic Cottrell showcases to cut a little open space into the amp-rumbling heaviness. Grief’s Infernal Flower is a worthy and welcome next step for Windhand. Sniff it.