Windhand's Melodic Doom Metal Is Basically Slowed-Down Nirvana

Joey Wharton
Doom riffs and gorgeous vocals don't normally come packaged together, but they are in the case of the Richmond, Virginia-based metal outfit Windhand. Fronted by dynamic powerhouse Dorthia Cottrell, the band's sound is a fascinating juxtaposition of brutal and beautiful.

Drummer Ryan Wolfe tells New Times that in the studio, the group strives to keep Cottrell's soulful voice at the forefront, no matter how impenetrable the wall of noise becomes. That's largely a product of working with producer Jack Enindo (Nirvana, Soundgarden) on the band's past two albums: 2015's Grief's Internal Flower and last year's Eternal Return.

"When we started working with Jack, he was very insistent that we were making a vocal-driven record," Wolfe says. "It shows, and it sounds good. She does have a great voice, and it needs to be heard... People used to gripe that her vocals were buried, and then we made the change and tried a different way of mixing, and of course everyone is like, 'Oh, I like the old recordings better. This is too clean and polished.' So whatever. You can't win."

Windhand will play a free show at Las Rosas Sunday, January 27, to push its new material on Eternal Return — the band's first album since founding member and guitarist Asechiah Bogdan left in 2015.

The group decided to move forward as a four-piece rather than replace Bogdan, which created a tectonic shift in the band's dynamics. Wolfe says the transition to playing live with only one guitarist was relatively easy, however.

"It took a second because there are parts where he would start the song, and we had to figure out how to re-create that, but we managed," he says. "It's honestly become better and easier; I know my playing got a lot better with the whole less-is-more thing. It's easier to see and hear each other and work together."

Even casual metal fans will notice Windhand is not long-winded — not in a genre in which individual tracks can stretch past half an hour. Heading into the studio for the Eternal Return sessions, the members agreed not to let any of the songs grow overly long, Wolfe says. "We really wanted shorter songs — that was one focus, just to tighten things up... They're just pop songs. The formula that we've done is slowed down Nirvana songs, which are like pop songs."

But make no mistake: Eternal Return's heaviest moments deliver absolutely pulverizing, end-of-all-things metal riffage. It's just that the contrast between the light and dark turns is starker than ever before.

"That was one of the big things on this record — we were able to install some quieter periods of reflection into the songs," Wolfe says. "On the last record, we wanted the album to breathe and kind of take a minute, and we used acoustic songs to do that. This time, we were actually able to put those pauses into the songs themselves. That was a big difference."

Windhand. With Genocide Pact, Ether, and Absolver. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, January 27, at Las Rosas, 2898 NW Seventh Ave., Miami; 786-780-2700; Admission is free.