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Windhand: Grief's Infernal Flower

Virginian doom crew get caught napping

Having crafted one of 2013’s surprise highlights – the colossal Soma, which saw acrid, amp-shanking Wizard-like riffs replacing the drug-abuse paranoia with a breathy melancholy and heavy, Americana-based ennui courtesy of the rich and disarmingly soulful vocal performance of Dorthia Cottrell – you might forgive the Richmond, Virginia-based quintet for not wanting to deviate too far from a winning formula.

However, you might have expected them to have at least tweaked the formula just a tiny bit.

Showing little sign of progression, Grief’s Infernal Flower is little more than Soma’s bloated cousin. Despite captivating slogs like Kingfisher, the likes of opener Two Urns and Forest Clouds could have been pulled from Soma’s outtakes, being of an almost identical formula and with their riffs – of which Windhand’s oeuvre is so reliant – feeling recycled at best. The haunting, acoustic dirge of Sparrow, however, proves the LP’s most exceptional moment, with Dorthia’s vocals given the necessary space to almost literally rip your sorry heart out.