Windhand – Eternal Return
Reviewed: January, 2019
Released: 2018, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
ETERNAL RETURN finds Virginia-based doom metallers Windhand awakening from the cocoon of past releases and emerging with a more dynamic and ambitious sense of self. Like the hazy echoes of an Ambien induced slumber, the 9 new songs that comprise ETERNAL RETURN flow with a kind of dreamlike quality, lingering through your speakers amidst a mental kaleidoscope of arcane sonic imagery that sounds both traditionally heavy and surprisingly accessible. It’s a pivotal moment for the band that makes for one of the best doom albums of this year.
Experimenting with more traditional song structure, tracks like “Grey Gardens”, “Red Cloud” and “Diablerie” sound almost mainstream in comparison to the likes of “Heap Wolves” or “Orchard.” And to the band’s credit, it works – the songs are super catchy and the band sounds more natural in this format than if they were to try and write SOMA part 2. More old-school Windhand tunes like “Eyeshine” and album opener “Halcyon” retain the heaviness that the band has long extolled, but benefit from a cleaner production that allows the guitars to really bite through the mix and for Dorthia Cottrell’s vocal melodies to be the focal point leading the procession. As the album progresses, ETERNAL RETURN lulls you into a trancelike state of contentment, adrift on a cloud of sonic melancholy.
Make no mistake – accessibility aside, ETERNAL RETURN is a doom metal album top to bottom. It’s heavy, it’s emotive, and it’s everything you’d expect from a Windhand LP. But the creative depth in their songcraft this time around makes for something much more impactful and resonant with the each listen. Windhand have pushed their own boundaries to create an album that redefines their sound and who they are as a band, ETERNAL RETURN should not be missed.