Windhand Grief’s Infernal Flower

[Relapse; 2015]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: doom, stoner, Seattle circa 1990
Others: Kylesa, Black Sabbath, Chelsea Wolfe

Stoner thoughts, upon listening to Grief’s Infernal Flower:

Did you ever notice that doom is mood spelled backwards?
And what is the essence of metal but mood?
Plus or minus aggression, of course.
And depending on the sub-genre, that is.
Is metal dead?
Isn’t dead the most metal thing metal could be?

Grief’s Infernal Flower reminds me of the early 90s.
In a good way.
Some riffs sound pleasingly like early Pearl Jam,
especially the solo at the middle of “Forest Clouds.”
More often, I am reminded of Soundgarden,
which makes sense, considering they share a producer, Jack Endino.
But who knew that Virginia in 2015
sounds so much like Washington in the early 90s.

Mostly, when I listen to Grief’s Infernal Flower
and recall the 90s,
I think about Mazzy Star.
Something something Hope Sandoval.
Dorthia Cottrell’s vaunted, heavenly melodies
make me think of death.
When I listen, I think about the early 90s
and the children I knew then.
Most lived to adulthood; I mostly remember those who overdosed on heroin
or died from gunshot wounds in home invasions.
Now I’m sad — thanks weed — but at least I’m still living.
I guess.

The cover image looks like a cemetery as drawn by Studio Ghibli.
If I ever start a doom band, maybe I’ll call it Miyazaki Graveyard?
But anyhow, where was I?
Windhand.
Windhand is a haunting, evocative name;
Soundgarden is silly, probably a better name for this kind of thing.
Soundgarden sounds more like a Soundswamp, but the alliteration stumbles off the tongue.
What the fuck is a Mazzy Star? What kind of metal would they be, if they were metal?
What is metal these days, anyhow?
It’s barely related, but:
I was looking at the lineup for the new Kylesa tour.
Everyone’s heavy, but no one will cop to metal.
So, what is heavy?
A dumb question, sure. But what else do you expect from stoner thoughts?
Profundity? Ha.
What’s profound about death or dying?
Everyone does it. I cannot think of a more common experience.
And that’s not kvlt, that’s not kvlt at all.

Listening to Grief’s Infernal Flower is like attending your own funeral.
Maybe not everyone’s first wish,
but haven’t you wished you could at least once in your life?
After all, why waste all that grieving on the dead?
“Crypt Key” is less Black Sabbath than Black Yizkor—
a Jew joke for the few Jewish metal heads out there,
but also redundant, because who wears anything but black on Yom Kippur?

Windhand is a little less heavy here than on Soma,
which was also a fine record.
This one is more of a deep groove than a sharp needle.
If I had to rank the two, I’d say Grief is slightly better,
but a hesher would probably disagree.
“Sparrow” sounds like a Neko Case composition as sung by Julee Cruise;
those who’d scoff probably love Nick Cave.
Straw men, bad seeds, forget them.

There’s a comforting quality to this new album.
A pleasant buzz or mindful drone or rueful melody from a past life.
The songs of the second half drag on a little too long,
but then again, Soma had the same problem.
There’s a metaphor there somewhere;
the metaphor is probably more metal than this album.
Regardless, Grief’s Infernal Flower is heavy in the best, most gratifyingly melancholy way:
a body high, more indica than sativa.
But right now, I want to forget these feelings,
so please pass the bowl.

\m/

Links: Windhand - Relapse

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