Wovenhand - Star Treatment

by Rob Taylor Rating:10 Release Date:2016-09-09

Delivered like a sermon from the mount, the bloodied invocations of David Eugene Edwards have enraptured since the days of 16 Horsepower. Wovenhand was initially a solo side-project of Edwards, but grew its own flesh and bone to become a hardcore country behemoth, so densely layered as to confound, so tumultuous as to be nerve-racking, and so fearsomely narrated by Edwards that the listener cannot help but be spellbound.

Part 1st Testament biblical storification and part homage to the folk, country and indigenous music of America, the music of Wovenhand wields awesome power, an unrelenting and occasionally frightening primordial force. One that stops you in your tracks. One that makes you concentrate reverently to the message being delivered.

The hellfire realisations Edwards brings to Star Treatment are informed partly by his Christian faith, partly his wonderment at the cosmos, and more pertinently from a brilliant sense for theatre. There’s no real nuance to Star Treatment. It ramps up the excitement from the get-go and doesn’t release its grip. Played loud, it’s a truly mesmerising experience, like being dropped by helicopter onto a precipice, one foot from death but filled with awe.

Two of the musicians in Wovenhand play in a Midwestern post-hardcore band, Planes Mistaken For Stars, and the wallop the music packs borrows heavily from their experience (hear the metal riffing on ‘Five by Five’), and from the expertise of Chicago metal producer, Sanford Parker. The album is recorded at Steve Albini’s Electric Audio Studio.

At the core of the album lie three tracks, ‘The Quiver’, All Your Waves’ and ‘Golden Waves’ which position themselves as the eye of a storm around which emotions run very high. ‘The Quiver’ is easily the best track I’ve heard all year. If this is perdition, then may judgement be delivered upon us all. 

‘The Quiver’ is a colossal track, a bit like Pink Floyd’s ‘Mother’ in its pleading nature but opening out into a fearsome abyss full of thunderous guitars and monstrous drumming. 

The impending doom of the marching rhythm section grows loud on ‘All Your Waves’, and Edwards's vocal utterances are like a séance, an indigenous calling of the wind. The call of an American Indian perhaps, brought to mind because of Edwards’ billowing, quavering, fraught and epic voice. 

I cannot imagine how spell-binding it must have been to produce this album.

An unfair contest for best of 2016. Possibly the best for a couple of years for me. 

 

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