On Songs Of Townes Van Zandt, a formidable trio of doom metal emissaries pay homage to the tragic folk and country legend, whose considerable talents were eclipsed by his notoriously reclusive nature and emotional instability stemming from the one-two punch of mental illness and a decades-long battle with substance abuse.
In addition to their Neurosis and St Vitus careers, Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till and Wino have each released stripped-down acoustic records heavy with bleak and introspective themes, making them capable ambassadors for the songwriter’s legacy.
On this acoustic tribute, the men strip away everything but the dark and disturbed undercurrent beneath Van Zandt’s wry humour, leaving a collection of exquisitely haunting dirges that would fit nicely at a coal miner’s funeral. Each delivers three sparse songs, with Wino’s seething version of Rake most closely evoking Van Zandt’s spit and defiance, and Scott Kelly’s seven-minute Tecumseh Valley showcasing the enormous power of the silence between the notes.
Never quite climaxing, however, the album eventually starts to drag, but on smouldering requiems like Lungs and Nothin’, the despair feels strangely comforting.