by Johnny Papan
Windhand’s sound is a drone-like substance. It’s often thick and moody, slathered in a distorted muck that drenches the soul. Although often labelled as a doom metal band, the group from Richmond, Virginia wants to disassociate itself from being niched into a specific genre. Their upcoming album, Eternal Return, due October 5, blends their glooming heaviness with psychedelic soundscapes and atmospheric moments of blissful beauty.
The album opens with “Halcyon” a brooding eight minute introduction, a downtuned portal into the nine-track audio experience. The second song, “Grey Garden,” which also served as the record’s first single, dances sounds of darkened grunge with an aquatic bridge. The music video is reminiscent of an intense horror movie acid trip.
Eternal Return’s title was inspired by the idea of life and death, loss, and starting anew, all of which the band faced in the months leading up to and during the album’s recording. Drummer Ryan Wolfe explains:
“As we were putting this album together, a lot of things happened. Garrett [Morris, guitarist/songwriter] had a child, our second guitarist left, and we had a really good friend die. This movement of life and death and constant reminders of people in your life from past and present just kinda kept pushing their way into our songs and into our everyday routines, and writing an album is a huge daily routine. We kind of felt that it was really fitting.”
The album was produced by Jack Endino, most famous for his work in Seattle during the early 90s. Endino has worked with the likes of Mudhoney, Soundgarden, the Gits, and also famously produced Nirvana’s debut album Bleach for $606.17 and a sandwich. Endino is often credited for creating the “Sub Pop Sound” that would eventually be marketed as the genre we know as “grunge rock.”
“Jack’s a fuckin’ sweetheart. It was pretty awesome to work with him,” states Wolfe, who also worked with Endino while recording Windhand’s 2015 record Grief’s Infernal Flower, which was met with extremely positive reviews upon release.
“The experience that we had with Grief’s Infernal Flower and Eternal Return were like night and day. It definitely showed the second time around, we’ve realized that Jack has become a big part of the band and kinda grown with us,” Wolfe explains. “He had a lot more insight and he wasn’t scared to hold back and tell us honestly what he thought, and guide us in certain ways. He had tons of ideas. It was nice to know that this is a professional relationship that we have and also a very personal relationship that we’ve built up over the years since we first started working with him. This dude actually is our friend and is a big part of the Windhand sound.”
Windhand is often labelled as a “doom metal” band, a moniker they aren’t fully keen on. With Eternal Return, the band made an attempt at pushing themselves from being a “genre band” and, although Windhand continues to instill those heavy soundscapes that they’re known for, they also don’t shy away from mellowing out, exchanging thick, black distortion for brighter atmospheres.
“It’s not just one loud, droned out, heavy record. It’s got a lot of parts that I think are going to surprise people. I think that’s good.”
Windhand play at Venue (Vancouver) on October 20.