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A Magazine for

Soma

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia five-piece stoner and doom metal outfit Windhand return with full length album, Soma. As suggested by the cover art, Windhand's second album is a bleak and doomy affair that stands solidly within the form, while not pressing forward on any frontiers. You expect nothing less from a subgenre whose movement, much like the American Hardcore scene, is glacial at best. The problem is that in a genre with such a set form, this album is just not good enough.

The press release generously describes them as a cross between Black Sabbath and Nirvana – a noble and audacious comparison that is halfway there, wherein lies the problem with the record as a whole. There are halfway attempts to make sludgy doom tracks with opener ‘Orchard’ and follow-up ‘Woodbine’, and a halfway attempt at an epic 30-minute drone opus with closer ‘Boleskine’ – a clear reference to magickian Aleister Crowley's Scottish dwelling – but nothing that stands alone as a solid gem.

The main issue here is with the production. The vocal track throughout the record remains consistently double tracked and reverb is added by the bucket load, creating a frustrating lack of punch in areas where you would love to hear a demonic and weed-addled voice box let rip from the speakers.

‘Feral Bones’ and ‘Cassock’ are by far and away the best tracks, showing the greatest promise for the band in their ability to establish production values that will elevate their sound. But the problem of the vocals still remains on these tracks and there is a point where you can't help but feel an instrumental version would be a preferred option for at least two of the segments on this album.

As a listener you expect and want a more accomplished package than Soma delivers, but in a live setting these tracks could sound amazing and the prospect of Windhand playing out is a curious and salacious one.