Cliché alert: if there’s going to be one not-exactly-metal album that you simply must listen to this year, it’s got to be Circumambulation. What True Widow conjure (pushing the tagging nerd squad to term it ‘stonegaze’ and ‘slowcore’) is part of a spectre that attaches itself to certain dark nuances emitted by black metal and occult rock and then takes it elsewhere, as if to infect other musical milieus (see Chelsea Wolfe).
True Widow’s previous output sat closer to our world, yet their Relapse debut is the best thing they’ve done. To the extent that what they do indeed channels occult rock, it shares none of the genre’s retro fetishes and, if it even looks back at all, it harks back to the 90s, not the 00s.
The male vocals, courtesy of guitarist DH Phillips, make True Widow sound, at least on a song like S:H:S, like a more pensive The God Machine. And when bassist Nicole Estill sings on album highlight Four Teeth, you’re actually forced to drop all comparisons and simply allow yourself to succumb to this black diamond of an album.