Friday 23 March 2018
GREEN DRUID ~ ASHEN BLOOD ...review
Desert Psychlist are not the first site to review Green Druid's debut album nor we suspect will we be the last and in reading the reviews from our colleagues in the undergrounds free press (for research reasons, no plagiarism here) there seems to be a lot of Sleep, Electric Wizard comparisons being made with regard to this Denver based quartet. Now for some that may not seem a bad thing others may well disagree but whatever your stance there is no denying that the bands first full length album "Ashen Blood". (Earache Records), is something that certainly makes its presence felt.
They say "big is beautiful" and it has to be said that although beautiful is not something Green Druid were specifically aiming for with "Ashen Blood" big is certainly something they have achieved. What we have here are seven dank slow, low and heavy tomes, six of which span from just under nine minutes to an epic eighteen plus, with only one "Nightfall", an eerie collection of drones, scraping metal and cawing bird effects, falling under four minutes. "Pale Blood Sky" opens proceedings and begins with the band laying down a swathe of grizzled, grainy low slung riffage that suddenly falls away when the vocals appear. Up to this moment it is fairly easy to understand why those comparisons with Sleep and Electric Wizard have been made as there is a similar level of relentlessness and raw depth to the riffs and rhythms executed here, however the addition of guitarist/vocalist Chris McLaughlin's voice to the mix takes things in a whole new direction. McLaughlin's vocals, whether singing clean and mellow or growling harsh and feral, have a certain uniqueness that is hard to describe, there are times, like on the quieter moments of the superbly schizophrenic "Dead Tree", when his voice almost wanders into indie/alt territory, his harsher delivery is also just as unique with him avoiding the usual low guttural approach and opting for a far more manic larynx shredding roar, while on "Ritual Sacrifice" his heavily phased vocal gives the song an almost otherworldly feel. McLaughlin's diverse array of vocal tones throughout "Ashen Blood" are what gives Green Druid their edge over similar sounding bands and helps elevate the albums songs to a level they might not have attained if the band had employed a vocalist of a more generic doom nature McLaughlin's voice and guitar contributions are superbly backed up by Ryan Skates growling, grumbling bass and Ryan Sims powerful, relentless percussion the pair combining to lay down huge arrays of thunderous groove on the albums heavier sections yet able to lay out considerate and supportive on its quieter, more lysergic moments, creating the perfect rhythmic platform for guitarists Graham Zander and McLaughlin to decorate with their mix of crunching down tuned power chords and dark swirling, psych drenched solo's, their guitars weaving around each other to fill the spaces Skates and Sims leave with swathes of dank but vibrant six-string colouring.
Those fans of Sleep and Electric Wizard brought here by those reviews, mentioned in this pieces intro, will no doubt revel in the heaviness and remorselessness of the grooves found within "Ashen Blood" but those with a more discerning palette, who may find the more progressive/psychedelic, yet still as heavy, leanings of the likes of Elder and Spelljammer more to there taste, will also discover plenty here to drool and slaver over too.
Check it out .....
© 2018 Frazer Jones