Heavyweights WINDHAND mark their arrival on new album, “Eternal Return.” Boosted by Garrett Morris’ consistently cool riffs—forged at the crossroads of Iommi’s otherworldly import and Kurt Cobain’s spontaneous precocity—powered by Ryan Wolfe and Parker Chandler’s groove-laden rhythms, and propelled by Dorthia Cottrell’s smoky yet wistful vocals, WINDHAND’s new album is a two-step jump for Richmond’s finest purveyors of the psycho-actively heavy. Adorned by Arik Roper’s (Sleep, High on Fire) impressive cover art, “Eternal Return” not only looks the part of WINDHAND’s artistic growth but sounds the part.
Established in 2008, WINDHAND spent their formative years writing, gigging, and preparing for their self-titled debut. Compared by fans and critics alike to High on Fire, Pentagram, and Electric Wizard, tracks like “Black Candles” and “Heap Wolves” solidified WINDHAND as America’s new hopefuls of heavy. Not long after, WINDHAND signed to Relapse Records. The group partnered with labelmates and fellow River City denizens Cough for the “Reflection of the Negative” split. Fans were blown away and critics were instantly smitten, but it wasn’t until WINDHAND’s second record, “Soma,” where things started to swing seriously upward.
“Soma” was issued in 2013, continuing WINDHAND’s precipitous rank up. The LA Weekly, Stereogum, and Spin featured “Soma” on their best-of lists, while Metacritic awarded WINDHAND a promising Metascore of 80/100. To support “Soma,” WINDHAND gigged extensively through North America, Europe, and Australia to rave reviews. The Virginians kept the flame alive by releasing a stopgap split EP with Swedish heavies Salem’s Pot in late 2014. The EP, featuring “Forest Clouds,” sated WINDHAND’s growing gang of acolytes. When WINDHAND unveiled “Grief’s Infernal Flower”—with producer and noisemaker Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden)—momentum was conspicuous and credible. NPR offered “Grief’s Infernal Flower” as “one of doom’s leading absences of light,” while Consequence of Sound bestowed a coveted “A-” upon WINDHAND’s third record.
For the new album, “Eternal Return,” WINDHAND wrote throughout the winter. Out of the songwriting sessions, “Halcyon,” “Grey Garden,” “Red Cloud,” and the monstrous “Eyeshine” emerged as the heaviest tracks, while “Pilgrim’s Rest,” “Diablerie,” and “Feather” embodied the more reflective side of WINDHAND. The juxtaposition of heavy, psychedelic, and pensive is less like Black Sabbath and Sleep and more like Soundgarden and Veruca Salt. But the namedrops aren’t absolute so much as signals of WINDHAND’s ability to stretch beyond genre confines. “Eternal Return” is a complete life-to-death journey.
Thematically, that’s exactly what WINDHAND were aiming for on “Eternal Return.” As unplanned things go, it’s an observation of as well as a reflection on life’s ups and downs, joys and sorrows, beginnings and ends. Between “Grief’s Infernal Flower” and “Eternal Return,” WINDHAND welcomed new life, survived lineup changes, and mourned unexpected death. The songs and song ordering are the direct result of those experiences. Where “Halcyon” is assured in its opening of “Eternal Return,” the closing track “Feather” is its funeral march.
For “Eternal Return,” WINDHAND brought Endino back to the fold. Together, they spent two weeks recording at Soundhouse Recording in Seattle. Described as “smooth” and “intense,” the sessions with the famed producer were just what WINDHAND wanted. Endino also understood the group’s artistic progression, chiefly the admiration of and blending in late ‘80s/early ‘90s grunge. Out of it all, WINDHAND continued to refactor and refine their vision of heavy. A new era of psychedelic heaviness is upon us with WINDHAND’s genre-blurring “Eternal Return.” Sweet, fuzzed-out oblivion has never been closer…
Dorthia Cottrell – Vocals
Garrett Morris – Guitar
Parker Chandler – Bass
Ryan Wolfe – Drums