For as relatively straightforward as the genre is—at least in comparison to prog or tech-death—I can’t imagine that it’s particularly easy to play stoner/doom in the Electric Wizard vein. More than any other style of music, these bands live and die by the quality of their riffs. It only makes sense – I mean, if you’re going to ride one riff for five minutes, that riff had better be one bad motherfucker. Jus Oborn can write bad motherfucker riffs; ergo, Dopethrone has influenced scores of bands. The same is true of of Matt Pike, and the dudes in Cough and Windhand…
Actually, Windhand is a pretty good point of comparison for mysterious Swedish outfit Alastor. Their forthcoming EP Black Magic is a three track, 30+ minutes slab of druggy, fuzzed-out doom that definitely isn’t lacking in the riff department. A rock-solid, bottom-heavy riff anchors each of the epic tracks, and there’s no shortage of wah-drenched guitar solos to add flavor to the proceedings. Lead singer R’s voice bears a remarkable similarity to Dorthia Cottrell’s in terms of tone and timbre – so much so that I thought it was a woman until I saw a band photo.
At this point, I’m probably making the record sound fairly derivative, and I suppose to a certain extent it is. But I feel like part of the appeal of stoner/doom is how closely it sticks to a particular stylistic template. Basically, if you like Windhand, you’ll like Alastor. Since I found the last Windhand record, Grief’s Infernal Flower, kind of disappointing, I’m really appreciating Black Magic because it takes the Windhand template and improves on it. It’s the kind of record that makes me want to completely zone out while banging my head very slowly, which in my book makes it an unqualified success.
Black Magic will be available on March 24 via Twin Earth Records.