Windhand

support Satans Satyrs
author AP date 21/09/17 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

No other subgenres of metal are quite so consistent as stoner and doom in drawing large audiences to Copenhagen’s venues even on weekdays — a fact proven once again by the bustle that meets me upon entering Loppen on this Thursday evening. People are here to see a band that is no stranger to playing in the city, having visited us multiple times in both 2013 and 2014. Since then, however, the Richmond, VA-based Windhand has kept us waiting for almost two years to hear material off their most recent album, 2015’s “Grief’s Infernal Flower”, played live, and this is perhaps one of the main reasons for such a strong turnout to see an outfit that is very much a thing of the underground.

All photos by Stefan Frank thor Straten

Satan's Satyrs

For a band of Windhand’s nature, Satan’s Satyrs makes for wise choice of a support act; their music, too, draws inspiration from classic ‘70s doom, but it comes seasoned with some old-school punk pepper and is played by the fellow Virginians with more gusto than you are likely to ever witness from the headliners. Unlike the majority of these ‘70s rock revival artists, the Herndon-based band’s music tends to be delivered at a faster pace and features less of those exploratory passages that are common in the genre, which makes their extroversion on stage unsurprising. Much of the show-factor nonetheless rests on the shoulders of bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess (alias Claythanas), who has the peacocking bravado and undying energy needed to take over the stage entirely. When he is not howling rebellious lyricism about Satan and the occult into his microphone enthusiastically, the man is most often seen hovering around one of the two guitarists, Jarret Nettnin or Nate Towle, crossing instrument necks or having an impromptu headbanging duel with them while the two are ripping through one of the countless solos spliced into the ‘Satyrs’ songs.

Not all of the set is riddled with that kind of swagger though, with the likes of “Round the Bend” and “Creepy Teens” both presenting a slower, groovier, psychedelic facet of the band. During these two songs, the musicians adopt a more familiar, trancelike state in which they look equally comfortable, drummer Stephen Fairfield settling into a freaky, shut-eyed dance with his upper body while the rest of the band turns inward to channel some good ol’ Jimi Hendrix. The dynamics are thus in order and as the concert winds toward its conclusion, one realises that aside from the lack of clear standout moments, there are few weaknesses in it. Having so far only passed through Denmark as a support act, the next time that Satan’s Satyrs make their way here must thus be as the headliner, the better to demonstrate their capabilities as the band pulling the weight.

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Windhand

With twirls of incense floating through the air, vocalist Dorthia Cottrell languidly pacing across the stage, and guitarist Garrett Morris and bassist Parker Chandler headbanging arduously in situ, even a person hard of hearing would be able to deduce stoner-doom to be Windhand’s genre of choice. And if not, then the fuzzy, endlessly iterating riffs should provide the final clue, as one could zone out at any moment and in again after any amount of time, and still find oneself listening to the same, or at the very least similar lumbering chords — a revelation that my colleague Ellis Woolley was not too pleased about in his review of the band’s 2013 outing, “Soma”. But as monotonous as large portions of Windhand’s music are, in the live setting it all seems to come together in a deeply psychedelic séance that seems to beckon the fixation of both the mind and the eyes.

Cottrell may seem distant and indifferent in her interactions with the audience, but as the songs trudge forward, her role in conjuring up the atmosphere described above turns out to be vital. She looks a woman either possessed or lost in some dream, often stuck in a compulsive back-and-forth movement with the whites of her eyes showing, clutching her chest as she sings in her characteristic baritone. Her complete surrender to and embodiment of the music is not only awesome to behold, it makes the intermittent jam segments, awash with the Cry Baby pedal effect and heightened by shroomy green and purple lighting, feel all the more inviting and immersive. It takes a while to appreciate Windhand’s deceptive intrigue to be sure, but once the revelation comes, the band presents itself as one of the more captivating live acts I have had the pleasure to watch this year, even if the repetitive nature of the songs does challenge my patience at times.

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