Behold Windhand, Richmond’s doom metal behemoth and one of the more notable bands in the genre worldwide. This past February, in collaboration with the Herndon-based garage metal/punk group Satan’s Satyrs, they released a monster of a new Split EP from Relapse Records. Having co-billed together several times over the years, including prime gigs at Saint Stephen’s Church in D.C. and the Heart of Winter Festival at Richmond’s legendary Alley Katz (prior to its somewhat beleaguered decline), the two bands knew they could cut a killer co-op. Despite occupying totally disparate points on the hard rock spectrum, the collaboration is a worthy addition to any such rotation. Indeed, if you have a natural predilection one way or the other, it’s likely to broaden your horizons.
Windhand leads off Split with “Old Evil,” a towering wall of fuzz and indelicate vocal waterfalls delivered in hypnotic five-bar time. Next up is “Three Sisters,” an epic 13-minute psalm of melodically reverbed-out vocal lullabies, cathartic high-register Hammond-esque rotary drones, and a thick tick-tock of dissonant guitar that obligingly self-oscillates—all sparingly highlighted with enigmatic, interstellar riffs. Satan’s Satyrs take over for the remaining three tracks. The first two, “Alucard AD 2018” and “Succubus,” are markedly more upbeat, not just in tempo, but their overall freewheeling attitude chock with squealing guitar solos and hard-hitting riffs. The closer, “Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby,” lands with an almost ironic blues rock pastiche before bursting into the frenetic finale.
Windhand’s fanbase seems to converge around the formidable domains of The Black Angels (Austin psych metal), Elder (Boston prog doom), and, perhaps least surprisingly, Electric Wizard (veteran doom pioneers from Dorset, England). The latter of those shares more than an aesthetic association with the two bands. Morris, who has historically handled much of Windhand’s recording on analog tape in their Richmond rehearsal space, also did work on the recent Electric Wizard release Wizard Bloody Wizard. Even more on-the-nose, Satan’s Satyrs bassist Clayton Burgess is the most recent addition to Electric Wizard’s band roster, having recorded and toured with them since 2015. Continuing with the incestuous love quadrilateral, Windhand bassist Parker Chandler is also a founding member of the well-known Richmond heavies Cough, whose own 2016 doom chart-killer Still They Pray was produced and recorded by Electric Wizard guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn with the help of Morris. Connecting the dots on this connection, Chandler recounted, “We introduced [Morris] and Jus when they worked together on Still They Pray, which was recorded in an old garage out in Chesterfield. Jus modeled his studio set up after Garrett's, and they flew him out for a couple weeks to set it up and do the basic tracking [for Wizard Bloody Wizard].”
Following on the successes of their previous releases, and while juggling the schedules for Cough and singer Dorthia Cottrell’s solo project (s/t out on Forcefield Records), Windhand is currently wrapping up the writing process for a third full-length album. “We’re just about done with it,” Chandler said. “We just need a few more songs to get the foundation laid out.” While they have tended to do their own recording in-house, they have achieved some momentous output in concert with external producers. As they did with 2015’s highly rated album Grief’s Infernal Flower, Windhand will head to Seattle this spring to record with icon producer Jack Endino. Manager of Soundhouse Recording, Endino has a storied history including work on enduring albums from Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Nirvana. Parker added, “We’re hoping it’ll be out in early October and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that happens.” If it does, a full U.S. tour including some extended regional legs is planned for fall 2018.
In the early years after their founding in 2009, Windhand came up through the prototypical RVA hard rock scene. They received good exposure at local favorite venues like 25 Watt and Strange Matter, aided in particular by generous treatment from the latter’s forward-thinking booking agent and area promoter Mark Osborne. He also manages Slimehole Booking which, despite what Google may lead you to conclude, is not a travel agency in Slime, Croatia (although that would be pretty metal). Chandler spoke highly of Osborne, saying, “He’s probably been the most instrumental when it comes to local support—it’s all been really positive. We still like to work with him because we know he’s always going to be straight with us on everything.”
Now relatively well established, Chandler sees great things happening in the Virginia metal scene. “I’m pretty excited about where it’s at right now. There’s some cool local bands popping up all the time.” Left Cross, Antichrist Siege Machine, Loud Night (which includes members of Battlemaster and Ramming Speed)—all are groups that Chandler is keeping an eye on.
Windhand will perform with Satan’s Satyrs and Prisoner on Friday, March 23 at The Broadberry in Richmond. Admission $15, doors open at 7 PM. Split available on vinyl from Relapse Records, hear more at windhand.band.
Photography by Brian Brown