Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Wovenhand : "Star Treatment"
This past weekend was spent at Dragon-Con, so I was only able to catch fleeting listens of this album while in transit. So now I can give it my full attention. Being a big fan of Eugene Edwards, expectations were high, but I can say I ever doubted his ability to deliver as he has been very consistent over the years. It opens with a pounding rock gallop that pretty much picks up where "Refractory Obdurate" left off. Things take a turn for the weird on "Swaying Reed" that sounds like the acid kicked in at the same time the Holy Ghost descended upon them in the studio. This does capture the same abstract tone the Doors touched upon, but strikes me as more of an interlude than an actual song. "the Hired Hand" struts in with a ghostly western feel. Edwards' resonant baritone is commanding as it is emotive. What different this time around is more trippy space like sounds zoom out of the corners of the song. A more deliberate rock inspired stomp haunts "Crystal Palace" though the intervals of the melody in the back hearkens back to tribal music of the American Indians. This album is certainly more atmospheric, though it's reined in to serve the songs. This is displayed on the exotic chord progression of "Crook and Flail" which finds keyboards playing a much larger role on this album. This opens a door to fans of progressive rock and psychedelic. Edwards elegantly weaves his voice around this song.
Speaking of psychedelic, the album gets a dynamic shift on "The Quiver". The vocal melody gets more breathing room on this song. There is also a very relaxed drifting Pink Floyd like feel to this one. There is a more surreal spell binding throb to "All Your Waves". This invokes a similar hypnotic feeling as the Holy Ghost inspired jamming on "Swaying Reed" the difference being, the vocals are more focused and it sounds like this is a song rather than Edwards just being poised at the threshold of another dimension where he might break out into tongues at any moment. The tribal influence of American Indians can once again be felt here. There is a lighter mood to "Golden Blossom". This is a more accessible ballad that touches on neo-folk, but has a more emotive soaring to it. It's a testament to Edwards ever expanding skills as a song writer, as this is just good music without the bounds of genres to confine it.
From this point on the song writing displayed stays pretty stellar. Not that the songs on the first half are filler, it's just that these find Edwards at the peak of his prowess. There is a Neil Young or maybe even Johnny Cash like saunter to the tempo of "Go Ye Light", but Edwards being the superior singer gives this song the authority of an Old Testament prophet. There is much beauty to be found in the layers of "Five By Five". Edwards backs off from the mic to get a little more introspective. Contrasting sounds color this song, the guitar might not be out of place on a Peter Murphy album, though there are lighter keyboard melodies trickling over this. The drums foreshadow a shift in intensity. This build in sonic intensity is very well played. This album only flirts with the darkness, but it is still satisfying. Maybe it's not as heavy as the previous album, "Star Treatment" is as powerful in other regards as Edwards other work.In certain places it's more accessible, but far from selling out by any means. I can easily round this one up to a 10 as I can hear it already growing on me with each listen.